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Raising subjects: The representation of children and childhood in Meiji Japan

Author(s): Rhiannon Paget

Journal: New Voices : A Journal for Emerging Scholars of Japanese Studies in Australia and New Zealand
ISSN 1833-5233

Volume: 4;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2011;
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Keywords: nishikie | Meiji | childhood | education | Monbushō

Two mutually dependent ideologies emerged during the first few decades of the Meiji period (1868-1912): universal education and nation. Both ideologies sought to redefine existing perceptions of childhood as a period of life subordinate to status, to a unifying experience for all subjects of the nation state. This paper examines coloured woodblock prints (nishikie) of ethical themes produced by the studio of Utagawa Kuniteru and the newly formed Ministry of Education, and Inoue Yasuji between 1873 and 1887, and the new notions of children and childhood the prints espoused. The means by which these images were distributed, their subjects, and the visual and design devices that they employed contrived to identify children with education and a new repertoire of civic duties, which bound them to the state and subjected them to new kinds of disciplinary power.
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