Cultural Studies Adjunct: Scott O'Bryan

I am a member of the Department of History and the Department of East Asian Languages & Cultures. My research interests include the history of social science, consumption and mass consumer culture, environmental history & urban history, and peace history. I have written about twentieth-century forms of statistical knowledge within political-economics and about the rise of the idea of limits in social, environmental, and cultural thought. I am now completing a book manuscript titled A Fetish for Growth: National Exceptionalism and Economic Knowledge in Post-Imperial Japan, 1945-1975. The work is a conceptual history of growth in its mid-twentieth century forms. Its central thesis is that the preoccupation with high growth of the postwar years in Japan was not merely a reflection of the material fact of economic increase but was itself an artifact of the twentieth-century rise of growth as an object of social science knowledge and as an analytical paradigm that came to govern political-economic practices in nations around the world. It is, therefore, not the anatomy of growth, per se, that interests me, but what I call the modes of economic imagination by which Japanese understood rapid material change and simultaneously attempted to give it meaning and shape its direction My next major project, Dreams of the Archipelago, is an environmental, urban, and cultural history that narrates a variety of schemes to reshape the built environments and human geographies of late twentieth-century Japan. It traces a history of Japan as both an icon of Cold War developmentalism and as the place in the closing decades of the century in which new fears of a more limited human future were perhaps most acutely expressed.

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