Ueno Chizuko

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Ueno Chizuko
Ueno Chizuko 2014-05 U-Tokyo.jpg
Ueno Chizuko giving a talk at the University of Tokyo (2014)
Born (1948-07-12) July 12, 1948 (age 71)
Alma materUniversity of Kyoto
OccupationProfessor of sociology
Known forJapanese feminism

Ueno Chizuko (上野 千鶴子, born July 12, 1948, in Toyama Prefecture)[1] is a Japanese sociologist and Japan's "best-known feminist".[2][3] Her work covers sociological issues including semiotics, capitalism, and feminism in Japan.[1][4] Ueno is known for the quality, polarizing nature, and accessibility of her work.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Ueno was raised as a Christian, which she notes as being "very unusual" because only 1% of the Japanese population is Christian.[6] Her father was a physician.[7] In an interview with The Japan Times, she describes her father as "a complete sexist" who had extremely high expectations of her two brothers but only considered his daughter as a "pet girl", which allowed her the "freedom to do whatever I wanted to do".[6] The marriage between Ueno's parents was unhappy, and her mother repeatedly fretted the difficulty that divorce would bring should she pursue it. Ueno would later describe monogamous marriage institutions as "the root of all evil".[8] Ueno studied sociology at the University of Kyoto,[1] where she participated in the Zengakuren student protests of the 1960s.[6] Ueno has stated that during her time as a student, she faced sexual discrimination.[9]

Academic career[edit]

In 1982, Ueno authored The Study of the 'Sexy Girl' (セクシィ・ギャルの大研究) and Reading the Housewife Debates (主婦論争を読む), texts that would be referred to as "The Flagbearers of 1980's Feminism".[1] Her work investigated the relationship between the "Women's Lib" (ウーマン・リブ) movement of the 1960s and Women's Liberation Movement (女性解放運動) of the 1970s.[1] The primary perspective of these works was the application of structuralist and semiotic theory to sociology in order to investigate gender-centric mechanisms in society. This public debate coincided with the prominence of other scholars such as Asada Akira, Nakazawa Shin'ichi, and Yomota Inuhiko, a period known as the New Academicism Boom (ニュー・アカデミズム・ブーム).[1]

After dropping out of her doctoral courses, Ueno worked in a marketing systems think tank and produced many works on the debates of consumption and society.[10]

From 1979 to 1989, she was a Lecturer and later Associate Professor at the Heian Women's College. She was an Associate Professor and Professor at the Kyoto Seika University at the Department of Humanities from 1989 to 1994.[1] In 1993, after being rejected from many other universities as a strident feminist scholar, she received an invitation from the University of Tokyo.[6]

She is a special guest professor at the Graduate School of Core Ethics and Frontier Sciences at Ritsumeikan University and a professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo.[11] She retired from this position in order to take the role of Chief Director of the Women's Action Network (WAN),[12][13] an organization designed to connect and introduce feminists from different backgrounds.[14] The Women's Action Network website hosts news, essays, popular media reviews, and promotes certain merchandise.[12]

In 1994, Ueno received the Suntory Arts and Sciences award for her work, The Rise and Fall of the Modern Family.[1]

Scholarship and views[edit]

Her research field includes feminist theory, family sociology, and women's history. She is best known for her contribution to gender studies in Japan. As a public intellectual, she played a central role in creating the field of gender studies in Japanese academia.[6]

Ueno is a trenchant critic of postwar revisionism and criticizes the whitewashing of Japanese history, which she claims attempts to justify its colonialism, wartime atrocities, and racism both before and after World War II. In particular, she has defended the compensation of Korean comfort women who were forced into prostitution by the Empire of Japan.[6] She is also a staunch advocate of global women's reproductive rights,[15] and a critic of monogamous marriage institutions.[8]

Ueno often discusses the semiotics and accessibility of feminism, claiming that feminist discussion in Japanese can frequently lack the language needed to make its concepts readily understandable and approachable.[3] Moreover, Ueno has engaged in publicly provocative expressions and publications in order to invite dialogue on otherwise less-discussed feminist issues in the Japanese media, for which she has received both praise and criticism from other feminists.[5] In the mid-1980s, Ueno was also involved in a public debate with Japanese eco-feminist Aoki Yayoi.[5]

Her work has argued that a key component of Marxist-Feminist thought is the recognition that sexism is an inherent, inseparable aspect of capitalist economies, and that sexism in the modern family does not owe its origins to pre-modern traditions, but rather is an acute product of post-industrial economic structure.[1]

Ueno has stressed the need for an accessible legacy of feminist thought.[16]

Selected publications[edit]

  • The Modern Family in Japan: Its Rise and Fall. Victoria, Australia: Trans Pacific Press. 2009. ISBN 978-1876843625. (first published in Japanese in 1994)
  • Ueno, Chizuko; Sand, Jordan (1999). "The Politics of Memory: Nation, Individual and Self". History & Memory. 11 (2): 129–152. doi:10.1353/ham.2005.0001. (translated from Japanese by Jordan Sand)
  • Nationalism and Gender. Victoria, Australia: Trans Pacific Press. 2004. ISBN 978-1876843595.
  • Patriarchy System and Capitalism. Taipei, Taiwan: China Times Publishing Co. 1997. ISBN 9789571323169.[17]
  • Sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Women, Politics & Policy.[18]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Inc, NetAdvance. "ジャパンナレッジ Lib". JapanKnowledge. Retrieved 2019-03-15.
  2. ^ "Holding back half the nation". The Economist. 29 March 2014.
  3. ^ a b Women of Japan and Korea : continuity and change. Gelb, Joyce, 1940-, Palley, Marian Lief, 1939-. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. 1994. ISBN 978-1566392235. OCLC 29638226.CS1 maint: others (link)
  4. ^ Ueno, Chizuko (1989). "Women's Labor under Patriarchal Capitalism in the Eighties". Review of Japanese Culture and Society. 3 (1): 1–6. ISSN 0913-4700. JSTOR 42800958.
  5. ^ a b c Broken silence : voices of Japanese feminism. Buckley, Sandra, 1954-. Berkeley: University of California Press. 1997. ISBN 9780520914681. OCLC 42855048.CS1 maint: others (link)
  6. ^ a b c d e f Prideaux, Eric (5 March 2006). "Speaking up for her sex". The Japan Times.
  7. ^ "死亡 上野良雄氏(上野千鶴子・東京大学大学院教授の父)". The Kyoto Shimbun. June 17, 2001.
  8. ^ a b Ito, Masami (2015-10-03). "Women of Japan unite: Examining the contemporary state of feminism". The Japan Times Online. ISSN 0447-5763. Retrieved 2019-03-15.
  9. ^ Oguma, Eiji (2009). 1968, Vol. 1. Shin-yo-sha. p. 81.
  10. ^ Ueno, Chizuko (1987). The Game of Finding Myself (「私」探しゲーム―欲望私民社会論).
  11. ^ "UENO,Chizuko | Graduate School of Core Ethics and Frontier Sciences, Ritsumeikan University". Retrieved 2019-03-15.
  12. ^ a b W-wan (2013-12-30). "Worldwide-Women's Action Network: Current Concept of Worldwide Women's Action Network (W-WAN)". Worldwide-Women's Action Network. Retrieved 2019-03-15.
  13. ^ Molony, Barbara (2016). Gender in Modern East Asia. Westview Press. ISBN 978081334875 Check |isbn= value: length (help).
  14. ^ "Worldwide-Women's Action Network". worldwide-wan.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2019-03-15.
  15. ^ Chizuko, Ueno; Turzynski, Angela (1997). "'Reproductive Rights/Health' and Japanese Feminism". Review of Japanese Culture and Society. 9: 79–92. ISSN 0913-4700. JSTOR 42800162.
  16. ^ Rethinking Japanese feminisms. Bullock, Julia C.,, Kano, Ayako, 1966-, Welker, James. Honolulu. ISBN 9780824866730. OCLC 1019678868.CS1 maint: others (link)
  17. ^ 父权体制与资本主义. 台北:时报文化. 1997. ISBN 9789571323169.
  18. ^ "Journal of Women, Politics & Policy - Editorial board". Taylor and Francis. Retrieved 3 June 2014.