Tele-envisioning a Nation: TV, Postwar Japan and Cold War Media
The development of television in postwar Japan synchronized with both Japan’s nation building project after World War II and its geopolitical positionality within the global Cold War. While much of the previous scholarship has been dedicated to postwar Japan and its political and economic entanglement with the Cold War, the dearth of research on how the Cold War culture, or the cultures of the Cold War, shaped the growing nation leaves room for further discussion. Following the “cultural turn” in Cold War studies and taking television as the vantage point, this thesis aims to unpack the correlation between television culture and nation building during the ideological war. The conviction that television should be understood as contextualized within the socio-cultural background leads to the emphases of the thesis not only on the technological features of the apparatus, but also on its social and cultural reception and implications. The thesis firstly traces the development of and discourse on television in postwar Japan to shed light on how television has been inextricably intertwined with the nation since its nascent stage; secondly analyzes the popularization of television as a household appliance and suggests television’s omnipresent role in mediating the relationship between nation and quotidian life; thirdly focuses on television’s live broadcast technology and its utilization during the national events to indicate television’s centrality to the construction of national imaginary. Resorting to both archival resources and secondary materials, to both historical documents and TV commercials, to methodologies in both media studies, visual studies and cultural studies, and to such theorists as Raymond Williams, amongst others, the thesis argues that 1) the development of television in postwar Japan was in sync with Japan’s nation building and economic booming; 2) television presents itself as a spectacle of national prosperity towards its audience, situates the audience in the “national time” and contributes to a national “imagined community.”
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