Book Talk - Empire of Hope: The Sentimental Politics of Japanese Decline

Tuesday, February 12, 2019
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
Philippines Conference Room 
Encina Hall, 3rd Floor 
616 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA 94305
  • David Leheny

The event is jointly sponsored by the Japan Program at the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center and the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership.

In this talk, David Leheny (Waseda University) discusses his new book Empire of Hope (Cornell University Press, 2018), which challenges current trends in debates about emotion and politics, arguing that we should instead look at the role of narrative in shaping emotional representation. In the book, Leheny draws from debates about status in international relations theory and from debates about affect and narrative in literary and historical studies to analyze cases from Japan’s Bubble and post-Bubble eras. This talk will focus especially on a 2001 crisis in US-Japan relations over a collision between a US Navy nuclear submarine and a fisheries training boat that resulted in the deaths of nine Japanese, including four high-school students. By presenting grief as both a national emotion and as one that could be narrated through the lens of timeless cultural difference, the US and Japanese governments crafted a crisis resolution that ostensibly rested on “mutual understanding” but that also hid the messier realities of power and of loss in the collision’s aftermath.

David Leheny is Professor in the Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies at Waseda University. He previously was an assistant and associate professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1998-2007) and the Henry Wendt III ’55 Professor of East Asian Studies at Princeton University (2007-2017). He is the author of, in addition to Empire of Hope, The Rules of Play: National Identity and the Shaping of Japanese Leisure (Cornell University Press, 2003) and Think Global, Fear Local: Sex, Violence, and Anxiety in Contemporary Japan (Cornell University Press, 2006).