Book Announcement: License to Play: The Ludic in Japanese Culture

LTPLicense to Play: The Ludic in Japanese Culture 

(University of Hawai’i Press, 2014).

Publisher’s summary:

Play is one of the most powerful cultural forces in contemporary Japan and in other late modern societies. In this notable contribution to our understanding of play, Michal Daliot-Bul explores the intricate and dynamic transformations of culture and play (asobi) in Japan. Along the way, she takes readers on a theoretically informed journey to better comprehend what makes play a significant cultural function, asking such questions as “How can we explain the dialectics between play as a biological instinct and play as a culturally specific activity? What defines the best player? How is creativity related to play? What is the difference between play and playfulness? Are some cultures more play-oriented than others, and if so, why?” Daliot-Bul argues that the cultural meaning of play and its influence on sociocultural life are not inherent properties of a fixed, universal behavior called play but rather are conditioned by changing cultural contexts and competing social ideologies.

Spanning Japan’s premodern period to the twenty-first century, the extent and expressions of play described in this book become thought-provoking lenses through which to view Japanese social dynamics and cultural complexities. As she approaches the post-industrialized 1970s in Japan, Daliot-Bul’s narrative also explores urban consumer culture as a system for organizing daily life, the tension between institutional and  contemporary popular cultures, the production of new gender identities, and the cultural construction of urban space.

Readership:

License to Play will appeal to scholars and students specializing in cultural studies, cultural anthropology, and Japanese studies. Given the global fascination with Japanese popular culture and with play-like pleasures in late consumer cultures, the book will also find a readership among those interested in Japan in general and in the universal phenomenon of play.

For more information: http://www.uhpress.hawaii.edu/p-9226-9780824839406.aspx

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About Paula

Paula lives in the vortex of graduate life. She studies medieval Japanese history.
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