Women in Atomic Bomb Narratives

Yuki Miyamoto

in Beyond the Mushroom Cloud

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780823240500
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780823240548 | DOI:

Series: Bordering Religions

Women in Atomic Bomb Narratives

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This last chapter examines the way in which survivors and non-survivors alike attempt to hand down the experiences of the atomic bombing, particularly through popular media. These atomic bomb narratives—both fiction and non-fiction—have been criticized for the fact that the leading characters are overwhelmingly women and children, who are stereotypically depicted as helpless and innocent victims. Acknowledging the basis of this criticism, I argue that the popularity of the a-bomb narratives cannot be accounted for solely on the basis of their melodramatic plots. Rather, I interpret them in a hagiographical register, revealing how the survivors' ethics are represented in these narratives through tropes of saintly but transgressive figures that derive from folk tales and setsuwa (legends and myths). Extending philosopher Edith Wyschogrod's idea that postmodern ethics should look to the lives of saints as exemplifying praxes that unites theory and practice in encounters with the other, I suggest that a hagiographical reading of the popular a-bomb narratives proposes a praxis of commemoration—a commemoration that promotes reconciliation through transgressing national and social boundaries. And assuring continuity—handing down the hibakusha's experiences—is, I claim, the non-hibakusha's responsibility.

Keywords: Edith Wyschogrod; non-nomological ethics; hagiography; Yumechiyo; Yūnagi; Jizō; Kanou Mikiyo; Seki Chieko; continuity of life

Chapter.  12309 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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