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Mass Games and Dreams of Youth

Mass Games and Dreams of Youth

(p.90) Chapter Four Mass Games and Dreams of Youth
Schooling Selves
Peter Cave
University of Chicago Press

This chapter explores discourses and practices of selfhood in three major school events, the sports day (taiiku daikai), choral contest (gasshō konkūru), and cultural festival (bunkasai). Schools had considerable freedom to decide the content of these events. The sports day and choral contest were dominated by discourses of collectivity and teamwork, while the cultural festival gave more scope to students’ autonomy and individual creativity. Ironically, however, Tachibana junior high school stopped holding its cultural festival just as educational reform reached its climax, instead prioritizing a mass callisthenic display (“mass game”) that suggested teachers’ attraction to practices of group discipline. These major events were also key sites for the negotiation of cultural and gender identity.

Keywords:   sports day, taiiku daikai, choral contest, gasshō konkūru, cultural festival, bunkasai, collectivity, autonomy, mass game, gender

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