Japanese empire and the politics of the marital family, 1919-1945 (Mid-term review seminar)

poster from the Marriage Hygiene Exhibition in Tokyo in 1933

Event details

PhD Seminar

Date & time

Thursday 25 July 2019


Basham Room (Baldessin Precinct Building)


Alison Darby


Alison Darby

Alison Darby will present her mid term review seminar on "Japanese empire and the politics of the marital family, 1919-1945".

In 1941 the Japanese state announced two sets of awards celebrating the ideal marital family. The first, presented by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, celebrated ‘eugenic marriages’ as defined by the health, fertility and assumed racial purity of its Japanese recipients. The second, awarded by the Government General in Korea, celebrated Japanese–Korean interracial marriages. Both these awards recognised marriage as a service to the empire, however the vision of the idealised marital family that they presented was markedly different. This dissertation will take the co-existence of these two discourses on eugenic marriage and interethnic marriage, each supported by different government ministries, as its point of departure. It then asks how, and why, these competing discourses gained influence within the Japanese state and among intellectuals. It further considers what this may indicate about how the future of the empire—and the marital family that would best serve it—was being conceptualised. It argues that this history of conflict over idealised marriage cautions against concluding that the Japanese state had a coherent racial ideology that clearly emphasised either racial purity or, on the other hand, assimilation. Rather, the debate over the ideal marital family remained fundamentally unresolved until the postwar period.

Alison J. Darby is a doctoral candidate in East Asian Studies at the School of Culture, History and Language at The Australian National University. Her doctoral research focuses on eugenic ideology and interethnic marriage in the Japanese empire from 1919 to 1945.

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