SOAS University of London

Japan Research Centre

Timely and Untimely Politics: Art and Protest in Early 1960s Japan

William Marotti
Professor William Marotti (UCLA )

Date: 4 December 2013Time: 7:15 PM

Finishes: 4 December 2013Time: 9:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: Khalili Lecture Theatre

Type of Event: Lecture


Marotti explores politics and timeliness by examining the advent of a critical art of the everyday in Japan in the 1960s and its links to political action. Between Anpo and the Olympics, and out of sync with eventful mass activism, artists sought to create eventfulness against a state-promoted, depoliticized daily life in the high growth economy. Marotti argues that microhistorical attention to such groupuscular art activities reveals hidden dimensions of conflict and engagement within the context of a global 1960s.


Speaker Biography

William Marotti is an associate professor in the Department of History at UCLA, teaching modern Japanese history with an emphasis on everyday life and cultural-historical issues. He is also Chair of the East Asian Studies M.A. Interdepartmental Degree Program. He received his doctorate in 2001 from the University of Chicago’s Department of East Asian Civilizations and Cultures.

Marotti's Money, Trains and Guillotines: Art and Revolution in 1960s Japan (Duke University Press, 2013) addresses the politics of culture and everyday life in Japan in the early 1960s, explored through a focus upon transformations in avant-garde artistic production and performance. Marotti examines the advent of this art-based activism in Japan in the late 1950s and early 1960s in its complex relation with an internationalized art world, mass culture, domestic protest movements, and evolving forms of state practice, law, and surveillance. He further reflects upon the significance of this history for understanding the 1960s as a global moment, and the particular role of art and performance in these transformations.

Marotti's current project builds on this study with an expanded consideration of the politics of the 1960s. Portions of this work appeared in the February 2009 issue of the American Historical Review for their forum on "The International 1968." Marotti also has contributed an essay considering the performance and politics of the Music group (GurÅ«pu ongaku) ca. 1960 to Tomorrow’s the Question: New Directions in Experimental Music Studies (ed. Benjamin Piekut, Univ. of Michigan Press, forthcoming), a follow-up to his essay in Yasunao Tone: Noise Media Language (Errant Bodies Press, 2007).

Marotti’s broader research interests include post-WWII Japan, global history, the 1960s, Cold War, comparability, critical theory, everyday life, art and politics, dance and performance, law and legitimation, and protest movements. He is the Director of the Japanese Arts and Globalizations (JAG) multi-campus research group.

Organiser: Japan Research Centre

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