Utopias on Display: Visions of Past and Future in Modern Japan (A Global Asias Workshop)
Throughout the modern period and continuing to the present day, displays of the products of Japanese culture and industry, from high art to public infrastructure, have performed a dual role: promoting idealized images of Japan to international audiences, while educating the Japanese public about what the country can and should become. Exhibits of Japan have aimed to define Japan of the present through utopian visions of its past and future. Bringing the focus of national identity to the distant past or near future effectively papers over uncomfortable aspects of the present, as well as problematic elements of recent history. The potential political, economic, and symbolic impact of exhibitions makes them the focus of attention and contention, garnering resources, but also inviting debate and dissension about how those resources will be deployed and what kinds of images would be presented. The goals and unintended consequences of varied endeavors include changing identities on the international and domestic levels, cultural and technological developments, and permanent changes to urban landscapes in the cities hosting exhibits or on display. This one-day workshop at Penn State will bring together scholars in a variety of disciplines to discuss the particular problems, questions, and issues surrounding Japanese exhibits of idealized pasts and futures. We invite proposals addressing any aspect of exhibitions in or of Japan. Send abstract and CV by January 15, 2016 to the organizers, Ran Zwigenberg (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Jessamyn Abel (email@example.com).