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Women in Japanese Studies: Memoirs from a Trailblazing Generation (Alisa Freedman, Editor)

Women in Japanese Studies: Memoirs from a Trailblazing Generation brings together trailblazing women scholars from diverse disciplines in Japanese Studies to reflect on their careers and offer advice to colleagues.

Most books present research and pedagogies. We do something different: We share lives—personal stories of how women scholars earned graduate degrees and began careers bridging Japan and North America between the 1950s and 1980 and balanced professional and personal responsibilities. We challenge the common narrative that Japanese Studies was established by men who worked for the US military after World War II or were from missionary families in Japan. This is only part of the story—the field was also created by women who took advantage of postwar opportunities for studying Japan. Women of this generation were among the first scholars to use Japanese source materials in research published in English and the first foreigners to study at Japanese universities. Their careers benefited from fellowships, educational developments, activist movements to include the study of women and Asia in university curricula, and measures to prevent gender discrimination. Yet there were instances when, due to their gender, women received smaller salaries, faced hurdles to tenure, and were excluded from, or ignored, at conferences.

Our book pioneers a genre of academic memoirs, capturing emotional and intellectual experiences omitted from institutional histories. We offer lively, engaging, thoughtful, brave, empowering stories that start larger conversations about gender and inclusion in the academy and in Japan-American educational exchange.