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Media Representations of African American Athletes in Cold War Japan

Yu Sasaki

Media Representations of African American Athletes in Cold War Japan addresses the cross-cultural dialogue between Black America and Japan that was enabled through sports during the Cold War era. This topic has hitherto received little scholarly attention in both American studies and sports studies. After World War II, Cold War tensions pulled African American athletes to the center stage and initiated their international mobility. They served as both athletic Cold Warriors and embodiments of a colorblind American democracy. This book focuses on sports in the Cold War era as a significant battlefield that operated as an ideologically and racially contested terrain. Yu Sasaki argues that one of the most crucial Cold War racial contacts occurred through sports in Asia, and particularly, in Japan. The mobility of African American athletes captured the attention of the Japanese media, which created unique narratives of sports and race in US-occupied Japan after World War II. Adopting an approach that integrates the archival and interpretive, Sasaki analyzes the ways in which sports, highlighted by the media, became a terrain where discourses of race, gender, and even disability were significantly modified. This book draws on both English and non-English language sources, including Japanese print media archives such as newspapers, magazines, posters, pamphlets, diaries, bulletins, and school textbooks.

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Writing this book was a long journey, and I have accumulated debts of gratitude to countless individuals and institutions. My deepest gratitude goes first to Professor Etsuko Taketani, who has been wonderful, giving me constant support and invaluable advice during my PhD program at the University of Tsukuba, Japan. Without her guidance and help, this book would not have been possible. I would like to thank the three advisors on my dissertation committee, Professors Kiyoko Magome, Andrée Lafontaine, and Kohei Kawashima, for their insightful comments, kind encouragement, and excellent suggestions.

I would like to thank the many colleagues and scholars who have had a lasting impact on me. I appreciate all the support I have received from my editor at Peter Lang, who helped me through the whole process. Thank you for believing in this project and putting in the hard work to bring it to publication. I would like to express my gratitude to my close friends and family, who have all encouraged and believed in me. Without their help and support, I might never have reached the finish line. Finally, I humbly extend my special thanks to all those who contributed to the completion of this book.

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