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The 2023 History Associates Van Gelderen Lecture: "Guiding Differences and Desires: Japanese Women Brokering Postwar US-Japan Relations" presented by Mika Thornburg, Ph.D. candidate. This event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments provided. Please RSVP to historyassociates@ia.ucsb.edu.

In 1964, the Japanese government began to roll back restrictive travel policies that had been in place since the end of WWII. What started as a trickle of only a few hundred thousand Japanese citizens, soon became a cascade of millions going abroad a few decades later. This boom in travel also had gendered dimensions, impacts, and consequences for Japanese women, in particular. In this talk, Mika will analyze how the discourses around travel and femininity influenced each other and entwined together, allowing the Japanese travel industry to create meanings for and about femininity in postwar Japanese society. In understanding how travel and tourism is produced and embroiled in the larger global processes, she hopes to further conversations that allow us to see past the glitzy sheen of tourism marketing to better understand the potentials, limitations, and complicities (both explicit and obscured) entangled in travel and tourism.

Mika Thornburg is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her dissertation research focuses on Japanese migration in the post-World War II period and its relationship with tourism, international relations, race, and gender. Combining cultural history and oral history approaches, the project explores how Japanese women, who served as tour guides in the 1980s, as well as tourism itself helped broker international relations, migration, and ideas of cultural difference.

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