Art and Activism in Postwar Japan: the Culture of Grassroots Democracy Between 1945 and the Early 1960s


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


East Asian Languages & Civilizations


This project examines the interrelation of artistic and political engagement in early postwar Japan. Though Japanese postwar democracy is often maligned, this project shows how democracy thrived as both aspiration and everyday praxis, in the many thousands of grassroots social and cultural movements of this period. These movements were born of active and creative engagement, participation, and expression. Three art movements dramatize the vital role of creativity and expression in articulating social movements: reportage, the Kyushu School, and Creative Art Education. Their art and the discourse surrounding their art bring to light the ways their work developed in dialogue and exchange with the grassroots efflorescence around them.