Atsuko Nakajima, Ph.D. Candidate

Butoh, Hijikata Tatsumi and Post War Japan: A Socio-Historical Investigation of Individual and Group Identity Formation


My work has focused on the formation of group and individual identities by emphasizing qualitative aspects of networks. More specifically, I am interested in the role of culture, structure, and individual actors in the networks that spread beyond conventional social categories in the processes of national identity formation and emergence of art forms.  


This sociohistorical investigation of Japanese identity formation since the 1950s analyzes artist networks linked to Tatsumi Hijikata, an avant-garde dancer and founder of Butoh. These networks, which included artists, novelists, and intellectuals, were characterized by great ideological, political, and philosophical diversity. Despite their differences, these figures found common ground in their appreciation of Hijikata and Butoh. Butoh performances challenged Japanese social norms, a challenge echoing that of Japan’s younger generation, who participated in widespread protests during the 1950s and 60s. This study employs network analysis to examine the transformation of the post-WWII Japanese art world, the strength of ties linking members of Butoh networks, and the role of those networks in postwar Japanese society at large.