The World of the Hanshin Tigers: An Anthropology of Contemporary Sport

January 27, 2011 6:30 PM (finished)


William W. Kelly

(Professor of Anthropology and Sumitomo Professor of Japanese Studies at Yale University)

Date/Time January 27, 2011 6:30 PM
Location Room 549 5th floor, Akamon Sogo Kenkyuto Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo  [map]
Abstract For the last three decades of the twentieth century, the Hanshin Tigers were the heart and soul of Kansai professional sports and emblematic of a sport that was so central to the development of transportation, media, and leisure in that region. To an anthropologist, the Hanshin Tigers represent an intriguing lifeworld centered on the production and presentation of what was arguably the most important sport in twentieth-century Japan. In this talk, I will first outline the five key elements of Hanshin Tigers sports world: the stadium, the team, the management, the fans, and the media. I will then introduce four themes embodied in this sports world: the uncanny mimicry of Bushido baseball; Japanese baseball as edu-tainment; Osaka’s second-city complex and Hanshin Tigers baseball as the nobility of failure; and the Hanshin Tigers baseball as workplace melodrama.
Bio William W. Kelly is Professor of Anthropology and Sumitomo Professor of Japanese Studies at Yale University. Much of his research and writing has concerned the historical dynamics of regional society in Japan, based on longterm fieldwork in the Shōnai area of Yamagata Prefecture, and the formation of a modernity of the mainstream in late Showa Japan. More recently, he has focused on sport and body culture in Japan. He conducted field research for a number of years on the history and present patterns of professional baseball in the Kansai region and has published a number of articles and a forthcoming monograph on this work. He has also edited three volumes based on Yale University conferences that drew scholars from Japan, the US, and Europe: Fanning the Flames: Fandoms and Consumer Culture in Contemporary Japan (SUNY Press, 2004), This Sporting Life: Sports and Body Culture in Modern Japan (Yale Council on East Asian Studies Occasional Monograph Series, 2007), and The Olympics in East Asia: The Crucible of Localism, Nationalism, Regionalism, and Globalism (Yale CEAS Occasional Monograph Series, 2011).