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“The Waste of Society as Seen through Women’s Eyes”: waste, gender, and national belonging in Japan

Rebecca Tompkins defended her thesis on 21 March 2019

Rebecca Tompkins
21 March 2019
Leiden Repository

This dissertation discusses “waste” and related concepts such as sanitation, hygiene, and recycling as a lens through which to analyze the incorporation of women into the nation-state (josei no kokuminka) in modern Japan (from 1868 to the present). During the state-led “modernization” of the Meiji period (1868-1912), a new ideology of the home (katei) began to emerge which placed women at the center of family life, as a housewife who supported her husband and raised her children. This “feminization and privatization of the home” excluded domestic activities, and the women who engaged in them, from the public sphere, though the home as a private and intimate space was celebrated as such in national discourse. The connection between women and the state, which had previously been only through their husbands and children, became a direct relationship after the First World War once the state realized the importance of the household to national policies. This creation of a direct relationship between women and the state through women’s domestic duties signified the incorporation of women into the nation-state. Waste represents an ideal site to examine the relationship between women and the nation-state because of its connection to both the home and the state.

Supervisors: prof. dr. K.J. Cwiertka and prof. dr. Anne Murcott (SOAS University of London)

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