The 62nd GJS SeminarMilking the Empire: History and Culture of the Dairy Industry in Modern Japan

Date and time: November 29, 2019 (Fri.), 5:00-6:00PM
Venue: Lobby (1F), Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, The University of Tokyo
Speaker: Noriko J. Horiguchi (Associate Professor of Modern Japanese Literature and Culture, University of Tennessee)
Language: English

Abstract: This presentation is part of Horiguchi’s second book project, which studies how food became part of the Japanese imperial discourse in the prewar and wartime periods (1868-1945), and continued to be part of the nationalist discourse in forming the US-Japan relationship in the Cold War era. It analyzes how literary, visual, and political narratives on food negotiated, both materially and metaphorically, the power dynamics of people within Japan, and also Japan’s relationships with Western (imperial) powers, neighboring Asian nations, and the United States in the transwar years. In this presentation, Horiguchi examines cow’s milk as a substance and a sign that involved such contrasting ideas as purity/impurity, imperialist/democratic, royal/popular, and Japanese tradition/Americanization. In particular, she explores (1) the ideas of Kurosawa Torizō, the head of Yukijirushi Nyūgyō (Snow Brand Milk Products Company, founded in 1925), about the national territory/body and the dairy industry; and (2) dairy products as “cultural artifacts” and their visual representations, including (a) Yukijirushi’s advertisements, (b) “Cow Brand Soap,” a product of Gyūnyū Sekken Kyōshinsha (Cow Brand Soap Kyōshinsha Co., founded in 1909), and (c) the film Franky the Milkman (Gyūnyūya furankī, directed by Nakahira Kō, 1956), a parody of the dairy industry and the film industry, especially the Taiyōzoku (Sun Tribe) genre. Through these visual media, milk as a Cold War cultural artifact played an important role in reconfiguring gendered bodies suited for Japan and in forging a new postwar national identity and a Cold War alliance with the United States.

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Organizer: The Global Japan Studies Network (GJS)
Co-organizer: Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA)
Contact: gjs[at]