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East Asian Studies

View from the Highway: Space and Mobility in Olympic-era Tokyo

Date: November 13 2012 4:00pm Location: Miller Hall 208

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Miller Hall 208

The East Asian Studies Department invites you to a research talk with Associate Professor Bruce Suttmeier. 

“My talk begins with the 1959 decision to bring the Olympics to Tokyo, a decision that put in motion a massive project to tear down and reconstruct huge portions of the city’s built and natural environment. It was a project shaped by concerns both mundane and utopian, an undertaking fueled by visions of technological possibility and expectations of international scrutiny. This presentation examines urban spaces in Olympic-era Tokyo, both the landscapes that disappeared and the landscapes that emerged. In my larger project, I am trying to ask (I hope) how we should analyze and historicize these spaces, how we should make sense of the various economic, social, ideological and aesthetic priorities that shaped them. Here, more specifically, I examine the production and representation of streetscapes – a focus encompassing both the massive elevated expressways and the renovated, repurposed surface streets – and ask how the radically uneven, profoundly altered conceptualizations of spaces within the city might be understood within emerging ideas of public space and political action.  It is a copiously-illustrated talk and is, in part, an opportunity to work through these knotty ideas on the discourses and practices of civic life shaping the built environment and the social production of space in the 1960s… but it is also an opportunity to engage with some stunning, fascinating, and just plain fun images I’ve accumulated as I’ve begun work on this project.” 

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