This presentation reflects on the formation of Japanese women’s identity in the larger context of “longing for happiness” by means of consumption in postwar Japan. The analysis is based on print advertisement for home appliances, cosmetics, cars and alcoholic beverages that appeared in the two major women’s magazines Fujin Kōron and Josei Jishin between 1949 and 1979. Reflecting on the changing representation of women, femininity and gender roles in the context of consumer society, I tackle the crucial question if women, who were and are increasingly targeted by mass advertising, are to be considered as passive objects that acquire a sense of self in consumer behavior? Or are they better seen as autonomous subjects that create a new identity by actively interacting with the idealized images in the advertisements? As the projected images hardly correlated with the material and social realities of postwar Japan, this presentation also asks why and how these commodities were constructed as necessary for the pursuit of “happiness”.
Olga Khomenko is Associated Professor of History at the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy (Kyiv, Ukraine), and a research associate at SOAS, London University. She holds a Ph.D. (2005) in Area Studies (Post-War Japanese History) from Tokyo University and another Ph.D. in World History from the Ukrainian Academy of Science, Institute of Far East (2013). Her academic interests include history of global consumer culture, consumerism, and changing trends in 20th century consumer behavior. Her research focuses on the development of consumer society in post-war Japan and the role of advertising in the process of changing women’s identity in Japan.
Institut für Ostasienwissenschaften – Japanologie
UniversitätsCampus, Hof 2, Eingang 2.4