Missing Bodies, Missing Voices: Ordinary Lives and the Reframing of ‘Postwar Japan’

he historiography of postwar Japan often tells the stories of those with the status and power to make themselves remembered – usually those who were members of elite families or institutions, with social, political or financial power. They were, moreover, often male. Yet we have ignored many other submerged voices which tell a qualitatively different story. Historians have never seen these figures as providing an intellectual or coherent response to the conditions of postwar Japan, perhaps because they did not belong to institutions or recognized organizations and movements. Seeking to create new historical narratives of the postwar, we focus on the voices of ordinary people – most often non-male – and their everyday lives that generated important alternative spaces and times. Their everyday cultural productions and practices contributed to a different view of the world around them to the stories narratives we are used to hearing. The aim of this two-day conference is to bring these voices to light, ranging including farmers from Tohoku, dancers from Tokyo’s backstreets, ordinary housewives, and miners from Kyushu, to challenge and change the accepted conceptual and chronological orders of historical knowledge of post-war Japan.

More details can be found at www.missingbodiesmissingvoices.com

Butoh Performance: Eternity123

Old Fire Station, Oxford

6pm, 11th March 2023

Tickets: oldfirestation.org.uk/whats-on/eternity-123

Eternity 123 is the third instalment of a feminist dance triptych choreographed and performed by Vangeline (Elsewhere in 2018, Erasure in 2019, and now Eternity 123).

Eternity 123 traces the symbolic journey of women’s liberation across time. With this piece, Vangeline also celebrates the impact of women on the art form butoh, exploring the link between women, butoh, and “cabaret.”

‘In the 70s and 80s, women butoh dancers danced in “cabarets” to make a living in Tokyo”, says Vangeline. “This history has led to unique methods and contributions by women in our field–contributions that have typically been overlooked. In the 1990s, I also made a living in New York as a go go/burlesque/vaudeville dancer. In this piece, I celebrate women trailblazers while playfully exploring these layers of history.”

Behind all significant cultural movements and changes in history, the lives of countless women can be found, as well as countless voices that have been silenced. As we challenge our collective memory by telling their stories, we redefine the importance of women’s participation in society.

Vangeline is a teacher, dancer, and choreographer specializing in Japanese butoh. She is the artistic director of the Vangeline Theater/New York Butoh Institute (New York), a dance company firmly rooted in the tradition of Japanese butoh while carrying it into the twenty-first century. With her all-female dance company, Vangeline’s socially conscious performances tie together butoh and activism. Vangeline is the founder of the New York Butoh Institute Festival, which elevates the visibility of women in butoh, and the festival Queer Butoh. She pioneered the award-winning, 15-year running program The Dream a Dream Project, which brings butoh dance to incarcerated men and women at correctional facilities across New York State. Her choreographed work has been performed in Chile, Hong Kong, Germany, Denmark, France, the UK, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.