Waste: Consuming Postwar Japan (Hardcover)

Waste: Consuming Postwar Japan By Eiko Maruko Siniawer Cover Image
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In Waste, Eiko Maruko Siniawer innovatively explores the many ways in which the Japanese have thought about waste--in terms of time, stuff, money, possessions, and resources--from the immediate aftermath of World War II to the present. She shows how questions about waste were deeply embedded in the decisions of everyday life, reflecting the priorities and aspirations of the historical moment, and revealing people's ever-changing concerns and hopes.

Over the course of the long postwar, Japanese society understood waste variously as backward and retrogressive, an impediment to progress, a pervasive outgrowth of mass consumption, incontrovertible proof of societal excess, the embodiment of resources squandered, and a hazard to the environment. Siniawer also shows how an encouragement of waste consciousness served as a civilizing and modernizing imperative, a moral good, an instrument for advancement, a path to self-satisfaction, an environmental commitment, an expression of identity, and more. From the late 1950s onward, a defining element of Japan's postwar experience emerged: the tension between the desire for the privileges of middle-class lifestyles made possible by affluence and dissatisfaction with the logics, costs, and consequences of that very prosperity. This tension complicated the persistent search for what might be called well-being, a good life, or a life well lived. Waste is an elegant history of how people lived--how they made sense of, gave meaning to, and found value in the acts of the everyday.

About the Author

Eiko Maruko Siniawer is Class of 1955 Memorial Professor of History at Williams College. She is the author of Ruffians, Yakuza, Nationalists.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781501725845
ISBN-10: 150172584X
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Publication Date: October 15th, 2018
Pages: 414
Language: English