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Narrative possibilities: the example of the Yasukuni controversy

Anna-Karin Eriksson
Linnaeus University
Anna-Karin Eriksson
Linnaeus University
Open Panel

Abstract

Yasukuni Shinto shrine was founded by the Japanese government with the religious purpose of pacifying the divine spirits of those who had sacrificed their lives for Japan in order to prevent them from seeking retribution on the living. As the Meiji government turned Shinto into the official “religion” of the Japanese state, Yasukuni became a central site for national memory. Few cases illustrate the meeting points, conflicts and challenges between nationalism and religion more vividly than the Yasukuni controversy. In addition to addressing the question of when is the nation, it also brings up questions of who belongs in it and how the boundary processes of a nation can be understood. In this paper, narratives intersecting the secular division of nationalism and religion are brought up as an example of how different boundary drawing practices enable different kinds of possible futures. Through illuminating different roads that narrative understandings of the intersection between religion and nationalism can take, the emancipatory prospect of narrative analysis is discussed.