Fin de Millennium Football in Japan: A Sport and an Age for “Individuals”

Elise Edwards, Associate Professor, Department of History and Anthropology, Butler University, and Luce Resident Scholar, SAR

Colloquium, SAR Boardroom

Wednesday, October 10, 2012, 12:00–1:00 pm, Free

Elise M. EdwardsElise M. Edwards2012–2013 Henry Luce Foundation Resident Scholar, photograph by Jason S. OrdazElise M. Edwards2012–2013 Henry Luce Foundation Resident Scholar, photograph by Jason S. Ordaz

In the early 1990s, a sudden surge in soccer’s popularity—a “soccer boom”—coincided with the “bursting” of Japan’s “bubble economy.” This overlapping of boom and bust rendered soccer a privileged site for cultural debates about the causes of Japan’s economic decline and suggestions for possible cures. This talk will focus on the ways that coaches, journalists, and professional players experienced, imagined, and inscribed soccer as the sport that most aptly replicated the dynamics of globalization and most effectively trained citizens and workers for a new world economy—an economy for which older and more traditional Japanese business styles and dispositions were seen as woefully inadequate. New ideals that coursed through the language and practice of soccer, including creativity, individuality, self-control, and professional consciousness, made clear that the sport was being shaped by the larger neoliberal landscape in which it was enmeshed and point to the importance of understanding sport as a critical and powerful site of cultural refashioning.

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