Blair R Williams
I am a History Ph.D. candidate and focus on East Asian History from an interdisciplinary perspective by integrating literature and media as historical sources and using methodology from scholars of science, technology, and society (STS). Such an approach provides me with methods to analyze broad scale structures that are often omitted when examining this subject and timeframe. My dissertation examines the sport of baseball in Japan from 1896 until 1965 to illuminate how the Japanese government trained its male population to embody various and often conflicting cultural roles ranging from the rational scholar of the Western enlightenment, to the fascist soldier of the Japanese empire, to the rehabilitated pacifist citizen of democratic Japan. Baseball is the most popular sport in Japanese history, and it holds the special status of being the only sport used by both the Japanese and American governments to shape the minds and bodies of Japanese men. However, baseball remains at the periphery of academic research agendas, which has resulted in three major knowledge gaps that I address in my dissertation: (1) How did baseball create conflicting definitions of Japanese national character from 1896-1932, such as the nationalist Japanese “traditional” samurai ethics at Ichiko High School in competition against an internationalist agenda of Waseda University; (2) How the Japanese Ministry of Education promoted through baseball a bushido-inspired, anti-Western “militarized male” identity among the Japanese empire from 1932-1945; and (3) From 1945 until 1965, how Americans used baseball to rehabilitate the Japanese “militarized male” into a competitive yet pacifist citizen of democratic Japan allied with America during the Cold War.