Chizuko Ueno
Principle Criticisms:
Kokkuminka to Gendaa (Nation-State and Gender) (Gendai Shiso, 1996)

Nihonbunka to Gendaa (Japanese Literature and Gender) (Kokkakukan, 1994)

Ueno’s main contribution to literature has been a feminist postmodernist perspective although she is mainly known as a sociologist. Her connections with women’s history, society, culture, anthropology and psychology have led to essays on the fertility rate, gender, sex roles, women, marriage, family and kinship.

Major Publications:

Kindai kazoku no seiritsu to shuen (The Rise and Fall of the Japanese Modern Family) (Iwanami Shoten, 1994)

Risky Business: A Dangerous Relationship between Women and Capitalism (editor) (Gakuyo Shobo, 1994)

“The Technology of Love,” Kyoto Journal (1991)

Kafuchosei to shihonsei (Patriarchy and Capitalism) (Iwanami Shoten, 1990)

Skatto no shita no gekijo (The Theatre under the Skirt) (1992)

Nihon no Feminisumu (Japan’s Feminism) (1986)

Japanese Housewives Today

Closing the Book on the Pacific War (From Mainichi Shimbun)

Ueno Chizuko was born in Kanazawa in Ishikawa Prefecture in 1948. She was graduated from the University of Kyoto from the Faculty of Arts in Department of Sociology. From 1979 to 1989, she was a Lecturer and later Associate Professor at the Heian Women’s College. She was an Associate Professor and Professor at the Kyoto Seika University at the Department of Humanities from 1989 to 1994. At the moment, she is a faculty member of Tokyo University Department of Literature in the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Studies. From 1982 to 1984 she was a visiting scholar in the U.S. and from 1996 to 1997 she was a guest faculty member at Barnard College.

Ueno has influenced an entire generation of Japanese postmodern critics ranging from Karatani Kojin Nihon Kindaibungaku no kigen (Origins of Modern Japanese Literature), Akira Asada and Noriko Mizutani. She has contributed to the major postmodern journal Hihyo Kuukan (Critical Space, edited by Karatani and Asada).

Theoretical Position:
Ueno Chizuko is one of the leading feminist critics in Japan today. A postmodernist critic, Ueno bases her theories on anthropology, sociology, language and politics. She criticizes the feminist Marxist position and wishes to go beyond the quasi-construction of feminism. A strong critic of post-war revisionist and historical reconstructive theories, Ueno criticizes the whitewashing of Japanese revisionist history which she claims attempts to justify pre-war colonisation, wartime atrocity and post-war racism. In particular, her social criticism has included defending the recompensation of Korean women during WW II. Criticizes Barthes’ ahistorical theories. Ueno utilises Homi Bhaba’s method of deconstructing the idea of a nation-state to deconstruct feminism. For Ueno, feminism is an oppressive by-product of modernism and has followed two equally destructive paths. By following the path of separation, feminism leads to the ghettoization of women by marginalizing them from the core patriarchal community. On the other hand, attempts at “equality” within the current sociopolitical system are illusive as “equal” means in accordance to patriarchal criteria and thus leads to the subordination of women. Ueno practices a gendered reading while simultaneously questioningthe ideology of gender binarism so as to better chart a new and fuller history of gender’s impact on discursive expression. In either case, the current definition of nation-state must be redefined from both the present patriarchal community, as well as from the feminist perspective.

In attempting to surpass the confines of feminism, Ueno brings sociological, anthropological and economic perspectives to the present definition of nation-state. Sociologically, Ueno indicates how the dysfunctional family has unveiled genderization and how this genderization has become visible in public sphere as the construct of family has been utilized in business and the nation-state. This enlargement of the domestic sphere through the increased visibility of the dysfunctional family in the public sphere. In her article “Japanese Housewives Today”, Ueno Chizuko discusses the evolving social phenomenon of the “neo-housewife” and the separate world these “neo-housewives” have created for themselves in rejection from the male-centered Japanese corporate world. In Kokkuminkokka to Gendaa (Nation-State and Gender), Ueno examines the images of the Emperor and the implications of the Emperor system in relation to gender. Ueno critically examines two revisionist theories of post-war Japan that have been used to justify the colonisation during the war.

The first theory utilises the racial mixture of Japanese identity as justification for the colonisation during World War II. In contrast, with the second theory, the Japanese identity is seen as racially pure and is also used to justify colonisation. Ueno also indicates the role of the dysfunctional family as expanding the visibility of the role of gender from the private sphere to the public gaze of business and consequently the nation-state.

Ayumi Ohmoto