Demanding publics

Women and activism

Authored by: Chelsea Szendi Schieder

The Routledge Companion to Gender and Japanese Culture

Print publication date:  December  2019
Online publication date:  December  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138895201
eBook ISBN: 9781315179582
Adobe ISBN:


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The main focus of this chapter is what has often been called “women’s activism” in Japan, with the caveat that both the terms “women” and “activism” are not fixed categories and require attention to historical context. Within this chapter, “activism” refers to engagement by non-institutional actors to bring about political or social change. This understanding of activism relies upon a modern mode of politics in which the public is understood to be part of the national political project. A persistent theme in women’s activism has been the enduring limits to full political participation by women based on gendered understandings of citizenship in particular. However, modern political institutions that appealed to enlightenment ideas of natural rights offered an understanding of political participation that made it possible for many women to make demands as the “public.”

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