Gendering Cultures of Japanese Photography, 1931-1970

Gendering Cultures of Japanese Photography, 1931-1970
Kelly Midori McCormick


This dissertation analyzes the cultural, economic, and gendered landscape in which the camera played a central role in making Japanese culture during and after World War II. Connecting the rise of women photographers and the domestically produced camera (two figures excluded from many traditional histories of Japan and photography) demonstrates the points of overlap where both have operated within and defined the same structures of power and visual economies which sought to construct cameras as powerful tools of war and nationalism, and women as subjects of its desire. By drawing on histories of technology, photography, design, and consumer culture, this dissertation revises the male-centered narratives of optical technologies and photographic practice and shows why the history of technology and consumer culture had radical effects on both the history of images and image making. Thus this study answers the following questions: What does a history of photographs taken during wartime and its aftermath look like seen from the perspective of its sites of mass production and consumption? And if the mass culture of photography was a defining element during this period, how does photographic culture bring into focus different angles on the history of Japan? In answering these questions I historicize the construction of the categories of masculinity, femininity, weapon, and producer of art and protest.


Kelly Midori McCormick

Defended in


PhD defended at

University of California Los Angeles




East Asia


Art and Culture
Gender and Identity
War / Peace