Noriko K. Ishii

Professor,

Sophia University 

 

Noriko K. Ishii (B.A. Sophia University; M.Phil., PhD. George Washington University) is Professor of North American Studies, American Women’s History and Transnational Women's History at Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan, serving as Director of the Institute of American and Canadian Studies.  Her first book was American Women Missionaries at Kobe College, 1873-1909: New Dimensions in Gender (Routledge).  Her research interest concerns gender, race, imperialism and U.S.-Japan relations from the turn of the century to the early Cold War years.   Dr. Ishii’s most recent scholarship focuses on exploring the role of religion and the transnational women’s networks of American and Japanese women in the Protestant missions during the interwar and wartime years.

“Difficult Conversations across Religions, Race and Empires: American Women Missionaries and Japanese Christian Women during the 1930s and 1940s”

This paper examines how American and Japanese women in the foreign missionary movement struggled to reconcile the rise of state Shintoism, Japanese patriotic nationalism, and American racism and nationalism with their Christian faiths during the 1930s and 40s when the United States and Japan were moving towards war. It applies Kris Manjapra’s notion of “aspirational cosmopolitanism” as the conceptual framework in its exploration of how an American woman missionary and her Japanese convert developed different visions of egalitarian cosmopolitanism and remained faithful to their Christian faiths as the states of Japan and the United States demanded more conformity to their wartime notions of patriotism.  Charlotte B. DeForest, the last missionary president of Kobe College, who struggled with the questions of shrine visits and racism against Japanese Americans, managed to shape a new hybrid identity as Christian and “supernational.” Takeda (Cho) Kiyoko, her former student, finally identified a Japanese dual consciousness through the image of “humans in shells” --- a clue to another cosmopolitan vision rooted in Christian faith appropriate to Japanese culture in reconciliation with Asia.

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