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Talk#15: Tricksters and Troublesome Women: Strategies of Gendered Identities and Social Change

in Two Moments in Postwar Japan

Saturday, 19 November 2022, 10-11AM JST

Speakers: Chelsea Szendi Schieder (Professor, AGU) and Daniela Lazoroska (Postdoc, AGU)

In this discussion, Daniela Lazoroska (Aoyama Gakuin University) and Chelsea Szendi Schieder (Aoyama Gakuin University) introduce two moments in postwar Japanese social movements that may be used to reconceptualize ideas about gendered political and social participation. Lazoroska explores women’s experiences of leadership in solar energy communities in post-3/11 Japan, and their appeal to "disembodied" knowledge as a way of evading positioning. Schieder discusses how women’s entry into postwar Japanese politics was predicated on an idea about women’s “apolitical” authenticity, a strategy that defined much of the housewife activism of the 1950s and 1960s. In conversation, we tease out the resonances, and reflect on which subjects or political subjectivities are seen as possessing moral legitimacy to instigate social change. We propose the framework of the “trickster” to explore how some politically active women may play in the space between gendered social expectations and may risk the label of the “troublesome woman,” but instead employ strategies that successfully justify their actions. With these brief provocations, we hope to open onto a larger discussion about who is a trickster and who is dismissed as merely disruptive. And what does this mean about the possibilities and constraints for transformative politics? We end with reflections on the potential the trickster figure has for thinking pro-environmental and norm critical behaviour from an environmental humanities perspective.

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