Rebecca Mak

Alumna (2008-2011)

Alumna FSGS

Email rebecca.mak@fu-berlin.de

Rebecca Mak was born in 1980 in Bad Waldsee, Baden-Württemberg. After the completion of her formal education, she took up Japanese Studies at the Ludwig Maximilians University Munich. After having studied at Kyoto University for one year, she came to the Freie Universität Berlin. Here she completed her degree in Japanese studies, ethnology and religious studies in 2008. From 2008 till 2011 Rebecca Mak was enrolled at Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School of Literary Studies, writing a PhD on the Japanese author Mishima Yukio.

Currently Rebecca Mak received the DRS Honors Fellowship, preparing a post-doc project on the Japanese bundan.

2011: Received her doctorate degree for her dissertation „Zur Verteidigung unserer Kultur (Bunka bōeiron)“ – Mishima Yukios kulturkritischer Beitrag zum japanischen Identitätsdiskurs der Nachkriegszeit" at the Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School.

Since June 2012, she has been working as a scientific assistant at the Institut für Japanologie at the Universität Heidelberg (Margarete von Wrangell-Stipendiatin).

Find more information on Rebecca Mak here:




Post-doc project on the Japanese bundan.

Abstract to “In Defence of our Culture”. Mishima Yukio as a Theoretician within the Japanese Discourse on Identity of the 1960s:

The aim of this dissertation is to position Mishima Yukio as theoretician and aesthete within the Japanese discourse on identity in the 1960s. I will translate Mishima’s central, as yet untranslated theoretical essay Bunka beiron ('In Defence of our Culture', 1968), then conduct aclose reading of the text and finally embed it into the 1960s’ discourse on ‘Japaneseness’ and identity.

I will critically examine Mishima’s essay and his understanding and critique of ‘the postwar’ and also illustrate how he grasps the interdependence of culture, tradition, monarchy and nation. Mishima regards the Japanese emperor as a ‘cultural concept’ and the element that symbolises Japanese culture in its totality. For Mishima this ‘cultural concept’ is rooted in western philosophy as ‘value in itself’ – thus referring to Immanuel Kant, while also being entrenched in traditional Japanese aesthetics as miyabi.

The description of Mishima’s discourse on identity will bring to light the importance of the Japanese emperor not only for this author but for ‘national’ identity discourse since 1868. Japan’s painful encounter with Western modernity needs to be kept in mind in order to fully understand the importance of the tenno for the question of Japanese identity.

Through widening the scope of my research into Mishima’s complete works, scrutinising them with respect to the search for a ‘Japanese identity’, I hope to cast new light on what is often interpreted simply in nationalistic terms in order to show that his work is multilayered and that it can be read on different levels.