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Marketing the Menacing Fetus in Japan (Twentieth-Century Japan Ser.: The Emergence of a World Power)

Hardacre, Helen

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ISBN 10: 0520205537 / ISBN 13: 9780520205536
Published by University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, U.S.A., 1997
Used Condition: Good Hardcover
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310 pages. Line in magic marker on bottom edge. Size: 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Bookseller Inventory # 9754

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Marketing the Menacing Fetus in Japan (...

Publisher: University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, U.S.A.

Publication Date: 1997

Binding: Hard Cover

Book Condition: Good

Dust Jacket Condition: Good

About this title


Helen Hardacre provides new insights into the spiritual and cultural dimensions of abortion debates around the world in this careful examination of mizuko kuyo—a Japanese religious ritual for aborted fetuses. Popularized during the 1970s, when religious entrepreneurs published frightening accounts of fetal wrath and spirit attacks, mizuko kuyo offers ritual atonement for women who, sometimes decades previously, chose to have abortions. As she explores the complex issues that surround this practice, Hardacre takes into account the history of Japanese attitudes toward abortion, the development of abortion rituals, the marketing of religion, and the nature of power relations in intercourse, contraception, and abortion.

Although abortion in Japan is accepted and legal and was commonly used as birth control in the early postwar period, entrepreneurs used images from fetal photography to mount a surprisingly successful tabloid campaign to promote mizuko kuyo. Enthusiastically adopted by some religionists as an economic strategy, it was soundly rejected by others on doctrinal, humanistic, and feminist grounds.

In four field studies in different parts of the country, Helen Hardacre observed contemporary examples of mizuko kuyo as it is practiced in Buddhism, Shinto, and the new religions. She also analyzed historical texts and contemporary personal accounts of abortion by women and their male partners and conducted interviews with practitioners to explore how a commercialized ritual form like mizuko kuyo can be marketed through popular culture and manipulated by the same forces at work in the selling of any commodity. Her conclusions reflect upon the deep current of misogyny and sexism running through these rites and through feto-centric discourse in general.

From the Inside Flap:

"A remarkably original contribution to the anthropology of reproduction, Marketing the Menacing Fetus in Japan provides broad and deep insights into the culture of sexuality and gender in Japan. Framing the issues historically, as well as anthropologically, Hardacre artfully blends a wide variety of sources, from the demographic to participant observation, from surveys to rich life histories. The book is a major contribution to feminist studies of abortion, and its impact is likely to equal that of Faye Ginsburg's justly famous book, Contested Lives."—David I. Kertzer, author of Sacrificed for Honor: Italian Infant Abandonment and the Politics of Reproductive Control

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