Hiroshima narratives

Hiroshima narratives - Elizabeth Hagen Hiroshima Paper#2...

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Elizabeth Hagen Hiroshima Apr 14 2008 Paper #2 Bomb Narratives John Dower examines in his essay the process by which “The Crossroads” exhibit, located in Air and Space Museum in Washington came to exist not, as first imagined, a comprehensive examination of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, including a look at the course of the end of WWII, materials highlighting the experience of individual hibakusha , and a critical analysis of how the “we” of the nuclear age are affected by these events, but rather as a stripped down commemoration of the Enola Gay and its operators. Living With The Bomb explores some of the ways in which the same events were perceived by various groups, emphasizing that each narrative describing the atomic bombs and the end of WWII contains gaps or silences which effectively signal the more morally troublesome aspects for a given group of people. The drastic revision of intended Smithsonian exhibit provides an instructive example of the editing process any set of historical truths must undergo before being approved for public display. For Dower, the Enola Gay is the embodiment of what he calls “the triumphal narrative” of the end of WWII, which purports to have saved lives on all sides without having to dwell on what and who were sacrificed. Critics of the exhibit, most notably the Air Force Association and their political backers, singled out certain offending items or images which had the effect of reducing cultural distance between Japan and the U.S. as well as those which, by appealing to mundane details of civilian life, emphasized the individuality of the bombing victims. Images which hinted at the large Roman Catholic population of Nagasaki were censored. Anything which called attention to the destruction of innocents, especially images of dead animals, as well
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as the women, children who made up the vast majority of those left in the cities at the time. YUI Daizaburo examines the absence of Koreans laboring against their will in Japan whose experiences are excluded from the American/Japanese binary representations of the bombings. According to these writers, the individualities of the victims of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs are often effectively concealed by an American emphasis on the stories and keepsakes of the droppers of the bombs. Any conception of destroyed human life is further obscured by the abundance of aerial photography taken during and after the events. Images or items which operated in fashions contrary to such distancing mechanisms were singled out as
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Hiroshima narratives - Elizabeth Hagen Hiroshima Paper#2...

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