January 7, 2019/ 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM

Royce 314

Thinking Like A State: The Thought Crime Apparatus in Interwar Japan

Colloquium With Professor Max Ward, Middlebury College

In the 1930s, the Japanese state developed an extensive apparatus to police political ideologies, producing a massive amount of literature on what was called “thought crime” (shisō hanzai), and arresting tens of thousands of so-called thought criminals. Earlier in the decade, government ministries, including the Home, Justice and Education ministries, created “thought sections,” which by mid-decade were publishing their own thought manuals and coordinating with each other through regular thought-specialist conferences. In this talk, I explore the publications of these bureaus and conferences as comprising a kind of intellectual history of the imperial state. My analysis of these manuals reveals how the Japanese state attempted to catalogue the theoretical and organizational complexity of the international socialist movement in the 1930s, while at the same time, how such knowledge produced a particular type of policing.


About the Speaker

Max Ward is Associate Professor of Japanese History at Middlebury College. He has written on various topics related to Japanese history and social theory, including Japanese fascism, Kyoto School philosophy, postwar Japanese cinema, and postcolonial theory. His forthcoming book, Thought Crime: Ideology and State Power in Interwar Japan (Duke University Press, 2019) explores the efforts of the Japanese state to rehabilitate political criminals as loyal imperial subjects in the 1930s.

Download file: 11.7.19-WARD-FLYER-ii-plp.pdf