Gas Mask Nation: Visualizing Civil Air Defense in Wartime Japan

8 Mar 2024
4:00 pm

3335 Dwinelle Hall

Event Type
Non-CSTMS Event

Gennifer Weisenfeld
Professor of Art and Art History, Duke University

Miryam Sas
Professor of Comparative Literature and Film & Media, University of California, Berkeley

This talk presents a fascinating look at the anxious pleasures of Japanese visual culture during World War II. Airplanes, gas masks, and bombs were common images in wartime Japan. Yet amid these emblems of anxiety, tasty caramels were offered to children with paper gas masks as promotional giveaways, and magazines featured everything from attractive models in the latest civil defense fashion to futuristic weapons. Gennifer Weisenfeld’s new book Gas Mask Nation (University of Chicago Press, 2023) explores the multilayered construction of an anxious yet perversely pleasurable visual culture of Japanese civil air defense—or bōkū—through a diverse range of artworks, photographs, films and newsreels, magazine illustrations, postcards, cartoons, advertising, fashion, everyday goods, government posters, and state propaganda. Gas Mask Nation reveals the immersive aspects of this culture, in which Japan’s imperial subjects were mobilized to regularly perform highly orchestrated civil air defense drills throughout the country.

For more information, please visit the Center for Japanese Studies website here.

This event is sponsored by: Berkeley Center for Japanese Studies

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