"...This is an essay about dolls, or more properly, the meanings that are invested in the making of dolls, and the subjectivities produced by engaging with dolls. In particular, it explores the relationship between dolls and modernity as it was created and experienced in the context of Japan. I want to propose that dolls played a critical role in the imaginative process by which Japan constructed its modernity; that, rather than being jettisoned to make room for “progress,” dolls were instrumentalized to negotiate that progress, serving as central vehicles through which foreign ideas were processed, reconfigured, and transmitted. In so doing, dolls themselves became constitutive sites of Japanese modernity: material “re-makings” of “worlds already on hand.”[4] And through their evolving technologies of manufacture, display, and diffusion, dolls vitally arbitrated the production of knowledge by which Japan made its modern world. ..."

Enigmatic Bodies: Dolls and the Making of Japanese Modernity

by PhD Student Marguerite V. Hodge for the
Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide Journal, Volume 12, Issue 1 | Spring 2013


Marguerite Hodge is a first-year doctoral student in the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism at University of California, San Diego. Her research interests concern thematics of volatility, affect, and embodiment within material and visual culture, focused primarily through interchange between Japan and France.


Memorial Service For Dolls, ca. 2000. Photograph
Courtesy of the Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide Journal


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