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In Session: Japan's Postwar: Politics of the Outside
Tsurumi Shunsuke's Use of Latin American Culture in His Defiance of the 1960s Geopolitical Order
Monday, March 22, 2021
10:00am – 11:30am EDT
Matias A. Chiappe Ippolito
Waseda University, Japan
Japanese New Left groups, those in favor of the recently established USSR and Chinese communist governments, and those less factionalized and yet against the Vietnam War and the revision of the ANPO Treaty, turned their attention towards Latin America in the 1960s after the Cuban Revolution. Writers and scholars linked to the Asian-African Conference, who sought to establish connections between Japan and the so-called Third World countries, also made notice of the cultural changes occurring in Latin America and applied them to their own production. As a political activist, but also as a man of letters, Tsurumi Shunsuke (1922-2015) stands as a perfect example of both groups. In his works of the period, he mentioned repeatedly his interest in Latin America, wrote multiple books about the region’s culture and history, and traveled to Mexico as a visiting professor of El Colegio de México in 1972. Upon returning, he published his most relevant book on the subject: Guadarūpe no Seibo (The Virgin Guadalupe, 1976), a travel book narrating his experience in Mexico, in which he highlights the similarities between ancient Mexican and Japanese traditions (what he calls “a common essence”), while calling upon union between regions to counter the advance of Imperialism and Capitalism. The paper will analyze the works of Tsurumi Shunsuke that depict and study Latin America, specially Guadarūpe no Seibo, understanding them as examples of a global political discourse that tried to connect peripheries of different continents in order to defy the geopolitical order of the 1960s.