Organized Panel Session
Modern education offered Japanese women new opportunities while also subjecting them to new forms of domination. Our panel traces the development of women’s education in modern Japan across time and space, situating gendered discourses against the broader social and historical forces that produced and shaped them. We begin in the late nineteenth century when women played key roles in setting up and funding educational institutions for women with the founding of Japan Women’s University (Nihon Joshi Dai) in Tokyo (Washington) and the creation of San’yo Gakuen in the regional city of Okayama (Anderson). We consider ongoing debates about the purpose and goals of women’s education, especially in the decades before and after the Second World War. We also consider the advent of co-education in the postwar period, a moment that brought fierce debates and unresolved tensions between competing models of gender roles (Bullock). These debates occurred not only in the metropole but also in the colonies, as an analysis of textbooks from colonial Taiwan suggests (Hu). Underlying all of these moments is the issue of why educate women at all. In tracing the way these discourses were inflected by changing socio-historical forces across time, we illuminate the various tensions and synergies between national educational goals and individual experiences of citizenship and gender identity.