Japan

Organized Panel Session

4 - Cold War Study Abroad and the Forgotten Founding Mothers of Japanese Studies

Thursday, March 22
7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Location: Park Tower 8216, Lobby Level

The common narrative is that the field of Japanese Studies was established by men who worked for the U.S. military after World War II or were from missionary families in Japan. This is only part of the story—the field was also founded by women who studied in the United States during the Cold War era.


Between 1949 and 1966, at least 4,713 Japanese students studied at American universities with GARIOA (Government Account for Relief in Occupied Areas (1949-1951) and Fulbright (established in 1952) fellowships, along with a few private scholarships. This group included 651 women. These young scholars who experienced World War II in Japan were among the first people to travel abroad after. They lived within a nexus of change, when the United States was rising in international stature and Japan was reemerging on the international scene as an exporter of technologies and American ally against Communism. They came after the U.S. internment of Japanese Americans and suffrage was extended in Japan. They came while women’s education was being reformed in Japan and American universities were rising in intellectual caliber. They were some of the first women to attend graduate school.


Many of these women became academics and pioneered other professional careers. Yet their names have been omitted from accounts of academic disciplines and jobs. Drawing upon personal interviews and archival research, I examine how exchange students formed a bridge between the United States and Japan and shaped flows of cultural knowledge.

Alisa Freedman

University of Oregon, Oregon

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