February 25, 2015/ 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM

UCLA Haines Hall Room 352

UCLA EVENT: Paper Democracy

Presentation by Miyako Inoue, Stanford University

This presentation provides a semiotic and linguistic anthropological analysis of the filing system introduced in the Japanese Prosecutor’s Office in the aftermath of WWII, from the late 1940s to the early 1950s.  At this time Taylor’s scientific management and Weberian visions of bureaucratic rationality in general expanded, for the first time, into public administrative offices as part of the democratization reform of the Japanese justice system pushed by the American Occupation.  McArthur’s General Headquarters (GHQ) had targeted the Public Prosecutor’s Office as a prime abuser of state power through what GHQ characterized as “secret inquisitions.” A “rational” filing system was envisioned as a technology of democracy, whose installation in the Public Prosecutor’s Office was thus meant both to signal the new and democratic criminal justice system, and to foster transparency, reliability and accountability in actual practice.  The new Japanese constitution incorporated the American framework of guarantees of equality before the law and due process, including the right to receive a “speedy trial.” This presentation will examine how the post-war constitutional imperatives of democracy were translated into the mundane yet systematic operation of paperwork rooted in scientific management and the goal of bureaucratic efficiency.  The filing system, in spite of its appearance of inertia, was envisioned to play the central role in materializing democracy in the Public Prosecutor’s Office.  Professor Inoue will discuss how the filing system sets in motion a diagram-like formation of what amounts to “logistical media,” which spatially and temporally regulates the movement of people and things as a self-correcting, self-generating machine.