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Western Shoes for Japanese Feet: The Materiality of Meiji Modernization

Martha Chaiklin, PhD (Columbia, USA)


Words like “savage” or “native” call forth images of people who are barefoot and civilizing was an important part of discourse in nineteenth century Japan as the issues, challenges and responses to Western incursion were confronted. Images of Japanese people dressed in Western clothing are commonly used to exemplify modernization, implying that westernization and modernization are equivalent and that changes in dress patterns are merely an aping of Western customs. However, the shift from traditional dress forms was neither immediate nor linear. Through the use of a material culture perspective, this talk will highlight insights to be gained by looking at the motivations, production and consumption of Western footwear in Meiji Japan, including the importance of the military and the role of the burakumin, or outcaste class.

Zeit und Ort

11.7.2019, 18.30-20.00 Uhr
Oettingenstr. 67, Raum 161