Sixth Asian Studies Conference Japan
    Saturday and Sunday, June 22-23
    Ichigaya Campus of Sophia University


last update 2002/03/09

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Contact the organizers: Asian Studies Conference (ASCJ) c/o Institute of Asian Cultural Studies, International Christian University 3-10-2 Osawa, Mitaka-shi, Tokyo 181


Session 13
Individual Paper Session: Urban Culture and Visual Media and Gender
Chair: Matthew Strecher, Toyo University

1) Charles Shull, Lynchburg College. "For Young Men, of Young Men: A Comparison of Gender Messages in Advertisements in Japanese and American Magazines"

In the past twenty-five years a considerable body of literature has developed which focuses on gender message images of women presented in the various mass media forms in America. A smaller body and later body of literature of gender message images of men exists. Some of these studies have examined media images in other cultures/nations and a few have carried out cross-national comparison of gender messages.

Maynard and Taylor (1999) found that there was a striking cultural difference when they compared the advertisement images of young women in the American and Japanese magazine(s), "Seventeen." They argue that young Japanese women were presented in "cuteness" images while young American women were not, that the gender messages seemingly appropriate for each culture/society are significantly different. This work questions if a similar difference exists in the gender images of young men in advertisements in Japanese and American magazines for young men.

Our work compares images of men in advertisements in relatively comparable "young men's" magazines drawn from the mass media popular cultures of contemporary Japan and America. Using the same methodology as Maynard and Taylor this work examines the similarity/dissimilarity of gender messages for young men as presented in specific advertisements in a selection of young men's magazines from Japan and America. Our work compares the specific images, the text, and the associated consumer item(s), in both sets of magazines.

2) Sari Kawana, University of Pennsylvania / University of Tokyo. "Eyeing the Privates: Detectives, Moga, and the City in Early Twentieth Century Japan"

The poster child of the 1920s Japanese urban culture was the moga. As reflected in the famous saying "Mitsukoshi today, the Imperial Theater tomorrow," the moga embodied the ideal of the newly burgeoning consumer-centered society. In the same period, the star of urban literature was detective fiction, a genre that dominated the literary market. Despite their proximity within the map of urban culture, however, their spheres of activity do not intersect as often as expected; rather, when they do intersect, the consequences are sinister for the moga or aspiring moga: she often became the victim of a horrendous crime

Using texts by Edogawa Ranpô and contemporary advertisements, this paper examines the discordant relationship between moga and the genre of detective fiction in the 20s and 30s. The discrepancy between the images of moga as projected by large department stores and other institutions of capitalism, and the depiction of their daily lives from a different angle as seen in detective fiction, creates a curious contrast. I argue that as different as they may be, both involve overt aestheticizations of moga: one to which women could aspire, and another that repulsed them.

Considered together, the visual and literary images surrounding moga send out a mixed message: on one hand, they promote the image that women, as individual consumers, are free or should be free; on the other hand, they remind women that if they try to become too free, the threatening forces of city life can easily tie them down (literally) or even destroy them.

3) Wong Kwai Ha, City University of Hong Kong. "Social Capital and Women's Career Mobility: A Study of Women Managers in Japan"

A portrayal of ineffective and imcompetent women managers prevails in the Japanese work organizations. Japanese women managers often find themselves belonging to the lower managerial echelon, and lack formal workplace authority. At this point, logical questions are what impediments women managers encountered in getting into their present managerial positions, what difficulties they faced in being managers, as well as what barriers there are in their attempt to climb up to high-rank positions in the organization. The most important question is why they have such difficulties. In the analysis of the above picture, a lot of studies have put their focuses on the discussions of gender differences on human capital and gendered structural arrangement in the Japanese workplace, however few of them are concerned with the relationship between the additional resources of male workers, the social capital, and career mobility of women managers. Also, many existing studies and research have pinpointed the impacts of the workplace glass ceiling on career paths of female managers. It is shown that the glass ceiling is the result of gender stereotypes and old-boy networks in the workplace. To some extent, the discussions of these sociological concepts in these studies are rather short and insufficient, and they often lack theoretical frameworks as guideposts. The discussions seem to leave questions such as how the network is formed, and operates blank. In fact, the concept of networking is a part of concept of social capital. In seeking to conceptualize the notion of old-boy networks, the theoretical discussion of social capital is adopted in the present study. The present study is going to investigate the hidden mechanisms of the inability of women managers to acheive managerial positions by employing the social capital theory which is a relatively new approach in the field of women's studies.

4) David Buwalda, Tilburg University / Jeonju Technical College. "Eye-Shopping Through the Windows of Asia: A Case Study of Contemporary Shopping Trends in Jeonju, South Korea"

The quality of life in Asian cities has been shown to have improved within the past two decades of economic growth, networking, and changing politics. However, urban planning, architecture and design have not fundamentally shifted paradigms since the 1980s. Meanwhile the size and conditions of Asian urbanism have inflated at a remarkable, unprecedented pace; cities have moved briskly through the past 100 years of Western Modernism within a few decades leaving them on the brink of maximizing modern trends or re-envisioning their possibilities. In this regard there is no unifying difference between the Asian city and the Western city; critique and theory are no longer exclusive of their separate spheres. Asian urban design ideas and problems are emerging in the West and Western planning is are getting greater exposure in Asia. It is the current task of critical theory in Asia to assess changing urban conditions and anticipate alternative planning ideas for new decade.

In architectural terms, the most ubiquitous new trends across the globe are in shopping spaces. Many of these trends despair and energize critics who see cities losing their character under the weight of globalizing processes of money, mobility, and culture. In a survey of the most recent of these critics in Europe and N.E. Asia (Korea, China, Japan), I propose to examine the different conditions in which these same trends operate for Asian urbanism. Finally, in a case study of Jeonju, South Korea I examine how these conditions operate in local urban planning initiatives.

5) Yinghong Li, Obirin University. "Beyond Genre: Challenges and Problematics Brought by Internet Literature"

As a new kind of writing, internet literature has gained such popularity in mainland China in the past few years that it has generated debates over whether it will eventually replace conventional literature. While this might be an overreaction, the continual expansion of the presence of internet literature deserves serious discussion. Publications of internet literature from mainland China in the past two years provides insight into many aspects of the current situation, as well as the future, of Chinese literature. As a new kind of writing, internet literature has brought with it challenges as well as problems for literary and cultural critics. This paper intends to address preliminary issues brought by this writing, which may or may not be indigenous to mainland China alone. Areas that deserve particular attention include, first of all, definitional problems, i.e. how do we define this literature? How is it different? How are old terms such as writer and authorship still relevant? Furthermore, how do we take into account the dynamics engendered by cyber space which allows instant and constant intercommunication between writers and their readers? Regarding the literary aspects, there is an obvious tendency among internet writers to challenge mainstream, or censor-approved, themes. There is also a strong desire to engage in experimental practices regarding style, genre, and language itself, which are not necessarily challenged or modified or permeable otherwise. Finally, a point of special interest relates to the function of gender identification, or de-identification as the case may be, in this new discourse. Given that many of the more popular internet writers are female, it seems necessary to interrogate the impact of gender on this discourse.


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