Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Kawasaka, K.
Contradictory Discourses on Sexual Normality and National Identity in Japanese Modernity
(2018) Sexuality and Culture, 22 (2), pp. 593-613.

DOI: 10.1007/s12119-017-9485-z

This paper aims to analyse the relationship between discourses of gender/sexuality and construction of national identity and normativity in Japan. Firstly, I will analyse discourses of two influential theorists of queer studies, Michel Foucault and Eve K. Sedgwick, examining how Western cultural identity and modernity have been represented through sexuality and geography in their discussion. Secondly, I will review representations of gender and sexual normality and deviances in pre-war Japan, arguing how contradictory discourses and representation of gender and sexual norms were constructed with Japanese national identity through cultural differences between Japan and the West, or Japanese tradition and Westernisation. Finally, I will examine political functions of contradictory discourses of gender/sexual normativity against sexual minorities including within contemporary ‘LGBT-friendly’ discourses in Japanese society. Through these discussions, I will point out: firstly, Japanese modern gender and sexual normativity has been sustained by contradictory discourses and confusing cultural distinctions between Japan and the West, rather than definitive transitions towards Westernisation and clear cultural distinctions between Japan and the West; secondly, how these contradictory discourses of definitions of hetero/homosexuality and differences between Japan and the West have politically functioned against sexual minorities even now. Thus, I suggest that it is more fruitful for sexuality studies in/about Japan to focus on contradictory discourses, their historical and social contexts, and power dynamism rather than seeking the solutions for these contradictions. © 2017, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.

Author Keywords
Asian modernity; Japanese masculinity; Japanese modernity; Japanese nationalism; Nanshoku; Queer in Japan; Samurai

Index Keywords
female, geography, homosexuality, human, identity, Japan, male, masculinity, sexual minority, social environment

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