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Article

Retirement  

Philip McCallion and Lisa A. Ferretti

The definition of retirement has become increasingly complex. Freedom from work, autonomy, and the pursuit of new interests are mediated by a sense of loss of value when employment ends, by the resource picture in retirement, and by the likelihood that current and boomer retirees are likely to spend more years in retirement. The viability of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and pensions is also of influence, and stereotypes of carefree years are thwarted by caregiving responsibilities and avoided by those continuing to seek fulfilling roles. Finally the experience of retirement continues to be different for important groups in society.

Article

Crises in the Housing Market: Causes, Consequences, and Policy Lessons  

Carlos Garriga and Aaron Hedlund

The global financial crisis of 2007–2009 helped usher in a stronger consensus about the central role that housing plays in shaping economic activity, particularly during large boom and bust episodes. The latest research regards the causes, consequences, and policy implications of housing crises with a broad focus that includes empirical and structural analysis, insights from the 2000s experience in the United States, and perspectives from around the globe. Even with the significant degree of heterogeneity in legal environments, institutions, and economic fundamentals over time and across countries, several common themes emerge. Research indicates that fundamentals such as productivity, income, and demographics play an important role in generating sustained movements in house prices. While these forces can also contribute to boom-bust episodes, periods of large house price swings often reflect an evolving housing premium caused by financial innovation and shifts in expectations, which are in turn amplified by changes to the liquidity of homes. Regarding credit, the latest evidence indicates that expansions in lending to marginal borrowers via the subprime market may not be entirely to blame for the run-up in mortgage debt and prices that preceded the 2007–2009 financial crisis. Instead, the expansion in credit manifested by lower mortgage rates was broad-based and caused borrowers across a wide range of incomes and credit scores to dramatically increase their mortgage debt. To whatever extent changing beliefs about future housing appreciation may have contributed to higher realized house price growth in the 2000s, it appears that neither borrowers nor lenders anticipated the subsequent collapse in house prices. However, expectations about future credit conditions—including the prospect of rising interest rates—may have contributed to the downturn. For macroeconomists and those otherwise interested in the broader economic implications of the housing market, a growing body of evidence combining micro data and structural modeling finds that large swings in house prices can produce large disruptions to consumption, the labor market, and output. Central to this transmission is the composition of household balance sheets—not just the amount of net worth, but also how that net worth is allocated between short term liquid assets, illiquid housing wealth, and long-term defaultable mortgage debt. By shaping the incentive to default, foreclosure laws have a profound ex-ante effect on the supply of credit as well as on the ex-post economic response to large shocks that affect households’ degree of financial distress. On the policy front, research finds mixed results for some of the crisis-related interventions implemented in the U.S. while providing guidance for future measures should another housing bust of similar or greater magnitude reoccur. Lessons are also provided for the development of macroprudential policy aimed at preventing such a future crisis without unduly constraining economic performance in good times.

Article

A Very Brief Survey of Twentieth-Century Latin-American Literature  

Jorge Fornet

The 20th century in Latin America began, in literary terms, with the emergence of Modernism, which exerted enormous influence over both sides of the Atlantic. From then on, the literature of the region—at least the literature written in Spanish and Portuguese—has been on a long process of assimilation in favor of the best features of the universal tradition enriched with the specificities of Latin American culture and history. Impacted both by competing aesthetic trends and social and political upheaval, the literature of Latin America provides a unique place from which to observe the contradictions of the region, as well as to attempt to answer the major questions that the region poses. Some basic certitudes do not prevent one recurring question from coming up: Does a Latin American literature exist? The answer is more complex than it appears on the surface, but the truth is that the most significant and ambitious moments of that literature—Modernism, the Vanguards, and the celebrated boom of the novel in the 1960s—have been those in which Latin American writers have been recognized as belonging to a common literary space. A journey through fictional narrative, poetry, essays, and even a relatively new genre such as testimony can attest to the way in which Latin Americans see themselves and think of themselves, with their own national and regional specificities and, in contrast with the others, beyond the space of the region. In the last decade of the 20th century, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Latin America was no longer what it had been for thirty years. By then, revolutionary dreams, guerrillas, the long nights of dictatorships, and the recovery of democracy—just to mention a few of its most recognizable aspects—felt like a distant past. In this context, a new generation emerged in order to close out the 20th century, and beyond that, to begin the 21st. To read, even if it is from a bird’s eye view, the interval between the Modernists to the 21st-century generation is the aim of these pages.

Article

China’s Housing Policy and Housing Boom and Their Macroeconomic Impacts  

Kaiji Chen

The house price boom that has been present in most Chinese cities since the early 2000s has triggered substantial interest in the role that China’s housing policy plays in its housing market and macroeconomy, with an extensive literature employing both empirical and theoretical perspectives developed over the past decade. This research finds that the privatization of China’s housing market, which encouraged households living in state-owned housing to purchase their homes at prices far below their market value, contributed to a rapid increase in homeownership beginning in the mid-1990s. Housing market privatization also has led to a significant increase in both housing and nonhousing consumption, but these benefits are unevenly distributed across households. With the policy goal of making homeownership affordable for the average household, the Housing Provident Fund contributes positively to homeownership rates. By contrast, the effectiveness of housing policies to make housing affordable for low-income households has been weaker in recent years. Moreover, a large body of empirical research shows that the unintended consequences of housing market privatization have been a persistent increase in housing prices since the early 2000s, which has been accompanied by soaring land prices, high vacancy rates, and high price-to-income and price-to-rent ratios. The literature has differing views regarding the sustainability of China’s housing boom. On a theoretical front, economists find that rising housing demand, due to both consumption and investment purposes, is important to understanding China’s prolonged housing boom, and that land-use policy, which influences the supply side of the housing market, lies at the center of China’s housing boom. However, regulatory policies, such as housing purchase restrictions and property taxes, have had mixed effects on the housing market in different cities. In addition to China’s housing policy and its direct effects on the nation’s housing market, research finds that China’s housing policy impacts its macroeconomy via the transmission of house price dynamics into the household and corporate sectors. High housing prices have a heterogenous impact on the consumption and savings of different types of households but tend to discourage household labor supply. Meanwhile, rising house prices encourage housing investment by non–real-estate firms, which crowds out nonhousing investment, lowers the availability of noncollateralized business loans, and reduces productive efficiency via the misallocation of capital and managerial talent.

Article

Ángel Rama  

José Eduardo González

Ángel Rama (1926–1983) was a prominent Uruguayan literary critic and theorist whose most important and influential work was produced between the mid-1960s and 1983, when he was killed in an airplane accident that took the lives of several writers, artists, and performers. He will forever be associated with the group of Latin American fiction writers known as the Boom movement, whose work Rama promoted. These authors achieved sudden critical and commercial success in the 1960s and became known worldwide for their innovative and often experimental fiction. The group included Nobel Prize winners such as Gabriel García Márquez and Mario Vargas Llosa, as well as other well-known fiction authors such as Carlos Fuentes and Julio Cortázar. Rama was influential in advancing a sociological interpretation of Latin American literary history, especially framing contemporary appreciation of regional styles, such as modernismo and the gauchoesque genre (literary works about gaucho lives and adventures), from a political perspective or by studying the forces at work in the local reception of international styles like the avant-garde movement. In American academia, Rama’s work is best known for two theories that he developed about Latin American culture: literary transculturation and the lettered city. Transculturation is an anthropological term that Rama used for describing the process of cultural negotiation between Latin American traditional worldviews and values and the cultural modernization entering that geographical region from the advanced centers of the Anglo-European world. For its part, the theory presented in The Lettered City focuses on the history of the traditionally close relationship since colonial times between intellectuals in Latin American and state power. This is also the aspect of Rama’s work that has had the greatest influence in the scholarly perception and interpretation of Latin American culture in the United States. The Lettered City has become a book taught in a wide variety of historical- and cultural-studies courses with emphasis on Latin America. It has greatly influenced our perception of colonial and 19th-century Latin American lettered culture. It has also been used to study challenges and alternatives to an urban-centered view of civilization.

Article

Latin American American Literature  

Rose Phillips

Latin American literature is a broad and heterogeneous category composed of voices from many countries spanning two continents. In the United States, more attention has been given to Cuban, Chicano/a, and Central American literatures than to writers from other South American countries. This article tries to remedy this disparity by focusing on the presence and influence of literature from South American countries, among them Colombia, Peru, and Argentina. The Latin American Boom was one of the most important literary movements that introduced Latin American literature into the United States and the broader international scene. After the revolution of 1959, Cuba began to offer opportunities for writers and artists from all over Latin America who wanted to pursue their intellectual or artistic interests. One of the reasons the United States government established the Alliance for Progress was to counter Cuba’s influence on Latin American intellectuals. The insidious program Alliance for Progress had a darker side that supported repressive military regimes across Latin America that were responsible for the death, torture and disappearance of thousands of South American citizens. At the same time, it did facilitate the translation and publication of Latin American novels; making them available to the American public. As a result, the works of Colombian, Peruvian, Argentine and Chilean writers such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Julio Cortazar, Jose Donoso, Manuel Puig, and Mario Vargas Llosa were published and widely read in the United States. South American literatures have developed a strong presence in the United States such as Andean literature and literature of exile. Since the 1980s, indigenous populations of Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador have migrated legally or extra-legally to the United States, whether in search of better opportunities or to escape the violence of their home countries. These vibrant Andean populations have contributed to expanding the Andean Archipelago of literature. Similarly, high numbers of Argentines went into exile during the military dictatorship of 1976 to escape government violence and repression. Scholars such as Yossi Shain affirm that exiles expand the borders of the country by creating a diaspora that continues to interact with their compatriots in their home country and with those spread throughout the world. One example is Luisa Valenzuela, an Argentine writer, who continued to be committed to resisting the dictatorship while in exile. Her work is engaged with the process of writing, and how the exile experience influenced her work and her identity.

Article

José María Arguedas: Indigenismo and Andean Culture in Peru  

Peter Elmore

Born in the small Andean city of Andahuaylas on January 18, 1911, the Peruvian writer and anthropologist Jose María Arguedas put a dramatic end to his life on December 2, 1969, by committing suicide after a long and ultimately unsuccessful battle with depression. At the time of his death in Lima, Arguedas was writing his most ambitious novel, El zorro de arriba y el zorro de abajo, in which the writer’s tortured chronicle of what ultimately came to be his last days stands in powerful counterpoint with a narrative set in the coastal port and boom town of Chimbote. Bilingual in Spanish and Quechua, Arguedas penned narrative fiction, poetry, and anthropological works bridging the predominantly criollo coast and the Andean hinterland. He was respected and admired as a writer in Peru since the publication of his first book, the short story collection Agua (1934), a watershed in Peruvian indigenismo. Broader recognition in Latin America came with Los ríos profundos (1958), a novel of formation whose narrator-protagonist is a memorable alter ego of the author himself. His ethnographic studies of peasant communities in the Central and Southern Central highlands, as well as his numerous translations of Quechua poetry and folktales, established Arguedas as a leading figure in the nascent field of Andean anthropology. Arguedas’s stature as both a writer and cultural icon has grown enormously in his home country and abroad since his demise. Along with the avant-garde poet César Vallejo and the socialist thinker José Carlos Mariátegui, Arguedas stands as an exemplar of the radical mestizo intellectuals who have played a decisive role in shaping modern Peruvian culture. Given the subject matter of his short stories, novels, and poems, Arguedas is commonly described as an indigenista writer. Arguedas spent his formative years in the Peruvian highlands, and endeavored to do justice in his fiction, poetry, and ethnological writings to the complexity of a rural hinterland in which a vast majority of the population was made up of Quechua-speaking peasants, whose worldview and cultural traditions permeated the views, tastes, and everyday lives of those who, like Arguedas’s own father, harbored racial prejudices. In the first decades of the 20th century, a growing concern about the so-called Indian question prompted an array of critical, political, and artistic responses, which came to be grouped under the umbrella term indigenismo. Visual representations of Indian peasants and Andean landscapes were prominent in paintings and frescoes by José Sabogal (1888–1956), who frequently collaborated with Amauta, the left-wing and avant-garde magazine founded by José Carlos Mariátegui in 1926. Arguedas’s favorite indigenista painter was Julia Codesido, whom he lavishly praised in Canto Kechwa (1938), a bilingual anthology of Quechua songs. Other journals and magazines, like Boletín Titikaka and La sierra, were also part of the indigenista ferment. In the longest of his Siete ensayos de interpretación de la realidad peruana (1928), Mariátegui, whom Arguedas credits with his embrace of socialist ideas while still a high-school student, advocated indigenismo as the driving force of a genuinely national literature, even though the actual number of novels and short-story collections set in the Peruvian highlands was still quite meager at the end of the 1920s.

Article

D. T. Suzuki: A Biography  

James C. Dobbins

D. T. Suzuki (1870–1966) was a renowned scholar, proponent, and popularizer of Buddhism in the 20th century. He grew up in modest circumstances in Kanazawa, Japan, and was a strong student in primary and secondary school. Though he was forced to withdraw before graduation, he managed to enter Tokyo Imperial University in 1892 as a special student and received instruction in Western philosophy and literature. At the same time, Suzuki began intensive Zen training as a lay practitioner at Engakuji monastery in nearby Kamakura. His master, Shaku Sōen, who had international connections, later recommended him to Open Court Publishing in the United States to assist in its projects on Asian religions. Suzuki lived in Illinois for eleven years, working mostly in translation, editing, and proofreading while also absorbing Western scholarship on religion and philosophy. During this time he began publishing his own works on Buddhism and Asian religions. He returned to Japan in 1909 and took a position as an English professor in the preparatory division of Gakushūin in Tokyo. He also resumed Zen practice with Shaku Sōen in Kamakura and collaborated with him on Japanese publications on Zen. By this time Suzuki had produced an array of works on Buddhism in English and Japanese. In 1921 Suzuki was appointed professor of English and Buddhist studies at Ōtani University in Kyoto. There he launched the journal The Eastern Buddhism, co-edited with his American wife Beatrice Lane Suzuki (1875–1939), which became an important international venue for scholarship on Mahayana Buddhism. Over the next twenty years Suzuki published some of his most influential books in English, many of which introduced Europeans and Americans to Zen. He also produced important works on Mahayana and Pure Land Buddhism. After his wife died in 1939, he went into semi-retirement in Kamakura and spent the war years publishing in Japanese on Zen, Pure Land, and Japan’s spirituality. After World War II, Suzuki emerged as a public figure in Japan. This was also the time when Western interest in Buddhism increased dramatically. In 1949 Suzuki went overseas again and spent almost a decade in the United States, primarily on the faculty of Columbia University. During this period he gave countless lectures and talks in the United States and Europe, and met frequently with prominent Western thinkers. Suzuki quickly rose to fame as a celebrity intellectual. After retiring to Japan in 1958, he continued to write and make appearances throughout his remaining years. When he died in 1966 at the age of ninety-five, Suzuki was acclaimed worldwide as the foremost proponent of Zen and as an authority on Buddhism.

Article

D. T. Suzuki: Ideas and Influences  

James C. Dobbins

D. T. Suzuki (1870–1966) was a scholar who published extensively in Japanese and English and achieved international recognition as an authority and proponent of Buddhism in the 20th century. He was one of a generation of young progressive Buddhists in Japan seeking to rehabilitate the religion and ensure its survival by interpreting it in a modern idiom. Suzuki grew up in humble circumstances but managed to attend Tokyo Imperial University for several years. At the same time, he received Zen training as a lay practitioner at Engakuji monastery in Kamakura. Through an introduction by his Zen master, who had international connections, Suzuki was able to travel to America in 1897 to assist in English translation projects on Asian religions. There he lived for eleven years working for Open Court Publishing in Illinois, all the while absorbing Western scholarship on religion and philosophy. During this time, Suzuki began to publish his own works on Buddhism and Asian religions. He returned to Japan in 1909 and took a position as an English professor in the preparatory school of Gakushūin in Tokyo. In 1921 Suzuki moved to Ōtani University in Kyoto as a professor of English and Buddhist studies. Over the next twenty years, he published some of his most influential works in English, many of which introduced Europeans and Americans to Zen. After living in semi-retirement in Kamakura during the war years, Suzuki again had the opportunity to travel overseas in 1949. He spent almost a decade in America, affiliated first with the University of Hawai‘i, then with Claremont Graduate School in California, and, finally, most prominently, with Columbia University in New York. During this period Buddhism, particularly Zen, became wildly popular in America and Europe, and Suzuki quickly rose to the status of a celebrity intellectual. After retiring to Japan in 1958, he continued to write and make appearances. When he died in 1966 at the age of ninety-five, Suzuki was renowned worldwide for his advancement of Zen and Buddhism generally. Suzuki’s scholarship on Buddhism focused particularly on Zen, Mahayana, and Pure Land. In Zen, he singled out satori, or Zen enlightenment, as the pivotal element in its religious life and practice. In Mahayana, he emphasized the ideas of nonduality and the interpenetration of all things and sought to spread knowledge of Mahayana in Western circles to counterbalance the better-known Theravada tradition. In Pure Land, he shifted the focus from enlightenment after death in Amida Buddha’s paradise to religious fulfillment in the present world and present life. In all these forms of Buddhism, Suzuki applied the concepts of religious experience and mysticism, which were widely recognized in Western scholarship. His success in presenting Buddhism to Western readers resulted in the widespread adoption of his interpretations by mainstream thinkers and counterculture movements alike in America and Europe. His ideas also commanded great respect in mid-20th-century Japan as part of Buddhism’s modern revitalization.

Article

Age Justice  

Steve Burghardt, Joseph Dibenedetto, and Bobbie Sackman

As baby boomers enter their later years, it has become apparent that ageism is a primary cause of much of the social marginalization and economic inequity experienced by older people. It is thus important to understand that ageism has both structural as well as cultural causes that require collective mobilization to correct. As such, anti-ageism and the fight for age justice fit within the intersectional movements of the 21st century seeking systemic change. This attention to systemic issues of ageism and the call for collective forms of action and organizing have become the foundation for an age justice movement. Therefore, an age justice organizing approach to the problems of older Americans is necessary and its solutions to aging-related problems are similar to solutions in other social justice movements. The historical context of aging and ageism informs present models of age justice organizing and issues addressed in age activism. For example, older workers have experienced workplace discrimination, and in the early COVID-19 pandemic, older people were marginalized. Looking to the future, an age justice framework that consistently addresses ageism as the systemic issue it is can be developed in micro, mezzo, and macro settings for all social workers and the older people with whom they work.

Article

Cuban Revolutionary Literature  

Lanie Millar

Fidel Castro’s arrival in Havana on January 1, 1959, marked the triumph of Cuban revolutionaries over dictator Fulgencio Batista, initiating a new era in Cuban culture. While critics generally agree that Cuban revolutionary literature began after this watershed event, their opinions on when the revolutionary period ends range from the mid-1970s to the end of the 1980s. Among the revolutionary government’s earliest priorities were to bolster Cuban cultural production and the infrastructure to print and circulate it, as well as to develop a literate public who would read new Cuban works. The state invested in new institutions and established new publishing venues that disseminated both Cuban and international literature. Meanwhile, independent publishing outlets briefly played an important role in the early revolutionary years. Accompanying these new opportunities, however, were debates and polemics over what kind of literature was suited to the revolutionary moment and who got to decide on its parameters. While Cuban literature boomed and publishing opportunities increased, by the 1970s, top-down authorities exerted increasing control over the cultural realm. Especially during the 1970s and 1980s, other kinds of diverse Cuban literature flourished, as Afro-Cuban and women writers gained prominence and pushed literature in new directions. Questions of race, gender, and sexuality came to the fore in works depicting both past and contemporary times. Much of the earliest literature of the revolution sought to respond to the social and political changes underway, either by describing the recent past or by writing with new styles considered to be suited to the new revolutionary landscape. Trends such as literatura de violencia (literature of violence) portrayed repression in the prerevolutionary years and the fight against Batista’s dictatorship, while the new genre of the novela testimonio (testimonial novel) sought to highlight marginalized voices and experiences, particularly those of enslavement or oppression. These developments accompanied Cuba’s new view of itself as a leader to the decolonizing world. After 1959, narrative and poetic experimentation abounded. However, by the 1970s, cultural authorities eventually converged on literary movements like socialist realism and conversational poetry as the preferred literary styles for the revolutionary society. Certain themes such as homosexuality, social criticism, and portrayals of racism in Cuba’s postrevolutionary society, as well as literary styles that deviated from the realist social engagement in vogue with Cuba’s institutions, resulted in tensions between state cultural authorities and writers. Sometimes, writers would face censorship and persecution. As the worst strictures of centralized cultural control lessened in the late 1970s and into the 1980s, Afro-Cuban and women writers pioneered trends in social commentary, humor, and irony. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 initiated profound political and economic crises in Cuba, remaking society and changing the direction of Cuban literature again. The revolutionary period had come to a close.

Article

Taxation and Spending in Latin America  

David Doyle

The battle over state redistribution, and the means to pay for welfare transfers, lies at the heart of contemporary political economy. This has been one of the central plinths of political science research on the advanced industrial democracies, and we now have a good understanding of the dynamics of spending and taxation in these countries, rooted in the power of the left and labor movements, together with the embedded liberal compromise. These explanations, however, struggle to explain tax and spending outcomes across Latin America. This is largely because the pressures of globalization, rather than embedded liberalism, drive efficiency concerns in Latin America; across the region, the left often behaves in unanticipated ways, and redistribution comes in many forms. These effects are compounded by the power of business interests across the region and the heterogeneity of voter preferences when it comes to spending and taxation. More research is needed on both the macro and micro level dynamics of taxation and social spending in Latin America.

Article

What Do We Know About Global Financial Crises? Putting IPE and Economics in Conversation  

Michael J. Lee

Since the 1970s, financial crises have been a consistent feature of the international economy, warranting study by economists and political scientists alike. Economists have made great strides in their understanding of the dynamics of crises, with two potentially overlapping stories rising to the fore. Global crises appear to occur highly amid global imbalances—when some countries run large current account deficits and others, large surpluses. A second story emphasizes credit booms—financial institutions greatly extend access to credit, potentially leading to bubbles and subsequent crashes. Global imbalances are, in part, the product of politically contested processes. Imbalances would be impossible if states did not choose to liberalize (or not to liberalize) their capital accounts. Global political structures—whether international institutions seeking to govern financial flows, or hierarchies reflecting an economic power structure among states—also influence the ability of the global system to resolve global imbalances. Indeed, economists themselves are increasingly finding evidence that the international economy is not a flat system, but a network where some states play larger roles than others. Credit booms, too, and the regulatory structures that produce them, result from active choices by states. The expansion of the financial sector since the 1970s, however, took place amid a crucible of fire. Financial deregulation was the product of interest group knife-fights, states’ vying for position or adapting to technological change, and policy entrepreneurs’ seeking to enact their ideas. The IPE (international political economy) literature, too, must pay attention to post-2008 developments in economic thought. As financial integration pushes countries to adopt the monetary policies of the money center, the much-discussed monetary trilemma increasingly resembles a dilemma. Whereas economists once thought of expanded access to credit as “financial development,” they increasingly lament the preponderance of “financialized” economies. While the experimentalist turn in political science heralded a great search for cute natural experiments, economists are increasingly turning to the distant past to understand phenomena that have not been seen for some time. Political scientists might benefit from returning to the same grand theory questions, this time armed with more rigorous empirical techniques, and extensive data collected by economic historians.

Article

The Japanese Economy Since World War II  

Simon Bytheway

Japan’s remarkable postwar experience of economic reconstruction, growth, and development explains much of why it is so intensely studied in other countries today. In common with much of the world and particularly the advanced, capitalist economies of Western Europe, Japan prospered during the years of the long postwar boom (1954–1970). Reestablished by the Truman administration as the archetype of an anti-inflationist, export-based economy, Japan’s success is perhaps unsurprising. What is remarkable, however, is that Japanese economic growth and development continued right up until the 1990s, despite being forced to make abrupt “corrections” to the country’s basic monetary settings by the Nixon and Reagan administrations, changes that precipitated an eventual three-fold increase in the international exchange rate of the yen. Against the backdrop of rising petroleum and energy prices (or “oil shocks”), global inflation, systematic financial crises, widespread economic recession, and the vexing phenomena of stagflation in many of the more mature capitalist economies of the West, the Japanese economy thrived. Japan became the world’s second largest economy (in terms of nominal gross domestic product [GDP]) from 1968 until 2010 with a relatively small population (101 million in 1968 and 128 million in 2010). The fall of Japan’s economic standing from second to third place tragically coincided with the triple disaster of March 11, 2011: an earthquake and tsunami that struck along the Pacific coast of northeastern Japan, causing a nuclear catastrophe. The triple disaster, in turn, led to the fall of the non–Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Kan and Noda governments, a belated acknowledgement of Japan’s worsening demographic situation (chronic low birthrates with an increasingly elderly population) the re-election of the LDP Abe government, and the return of economic growth ideology in the form of Abenomics and its New Capitalism successor.

Article

Women and Writing in Spanish America from Colonial Times through the 20th Century  

Carolina Alzate and Betty Osorio

As in the case of other Western literary traditions, women’s relationship to writing in Spanish America has been problematic since early modernity. From colonial times onward, women’s emergence on the writing scene as authors went hand in hand with a redescription of the feminine that allowed them to become producers of written culture and to find a respectable entry into the public sphere from which they were excluded. Spanish-American feminine tradition from the 16th through the 20th centuries may be read as a gradual, heterogeneous, and difficult but nonetheless sustained and very productive occupation of new ground. Legitimation of their voice passed through the reading of the male tradition, the establishment of a female tradition, and the redescription of a subjectivity that would make it possible for them to take up the pen and eventually to imagine themselves being read by others. Establishing the contents of these women’s libraries, reconstructed through their testimonies of reading both in a colonial society in which illiteracy was very high—especially among women—and in 19th-century society in general, and in which access to the written word remained restricted, are key elements for understanding their writing. Most female authorship during the colonial period took the form of religious writing and was dependent upon the male figure of the confessor, as was the possibility of publishing their life stories and writings. But women authors were not only nuns, and it is also possible to find examples of women who left their mark on writing due to special circumstances (travelers and so-called witches). Male tutelage tended to remain in force throughout the 19th century, and newspapers would provide vitally important new spaces for publication in the young independent republics. Women’s relationship to newspapers, both as readers and authors, was essential to this writing tradition, and it would allow them to build reading and editorial networks—both within the Americas and across the Atlantic, a context that must be understood to properly understand their writing projects. Women writers in the early 20th century would travel, not without difficulty, along the roads paved by the pioneers. The year 1959, a provisional closing date marked by the Cuban Revolution, helps position 20th-century literature as one of the forms of the crisis of modernity: that which reveals and celebrates heterogeneity and could no longer openly continue excluding women from the authorized spaces for the production of meaning.

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Japanese American Buddhism  

Michihiro Ama and Michael Masatsugu

Japanese Buddhism was introduced to the United States at the Parliament of World Religions in Chicago in 1893, but the development of Japanese American Buddhism, also known as Nikkei Buddhism, really began when Japanese migrants brought Buddhism with them to Hawaii and the continental United States during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It has been influenced by, and has reflected, America’s sociopolitical and religious climate and the US relationship to Japan, to which generations of Japanese Americans, such as Issei (literally, first generation, referring to Japanese immigrants), Nisei (second-generation American-born offspring of the Issei), and Sansei (third generation), responded differently. While adapting to American society, Japanese American Buddhists maintained their cultural practices and ethnoreligious identity. The history of Japanese American Buddhism discussed in this article spans from the late-19th Century to the 1970s and is divided into three major periods: the pre-World War II, World War II, and the postwar eras. Japanese American Buddhism is derived from the various Buddhist organizations in Japan. The Nishi Hongwanji denomination of Jōdo Shinshū, a form of Pure Land Buddhism known as Shin Buddhism in the West, is the oldest and largest form of ethnic Japanese Buddhism in the United States. In Hawaii, Nishi Hongwanji founded the Hompa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii (HHMH) in Honolulu in 1897. On the continental United States, it established the Buddhist Mission of North America (BMNA) in San Francisco in 1898, currently known as the Buddhist Churches of America (BCA). Other Japanese Buddhist organizations also developed in the United States at the beginning of the 20th century. They include the Jōdo-shū, another sect of Pure Land Buddhism; Higashi Hongwanji, another major denomination of Jōdoshin-shū; Sōtō-shū, a Zen Buddhist school; Shingon-shū, known as Kōyasan Buddhism; and Nichiren-shū. The characteristics of Japanese American Buddhism changed significantly during World War II, when approximately 120,000 persons of Japanese descent living in the West Coast states were incarcerated because of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. The postwar period witnessed a rapid transformation in the status and visibility of Japanese Buddhism in the United States. This transformation was driven by the promotion of ethnonational Buddhism by Nisei and by the growth of interest in Zen Buddhism among the general American public. The positive reception of Japanese Buddhism in the United States reflected and reinforced the transformed relationship between the United States and Japan from wartime enemies to Cold War partners. While they experienced greater receptivity and interest in Buddhism from nonethnics, they could no longer practice or espouse Jōdo Shinshū teachings or adapted practices without clarification. Debates concerning the authenticity of Jōdo Shinshū Buddhism and Japanese American Buddhist practices were interwoven within a longer history of American Orientalism. By the 1960s, Japanese American Buddhist communities were transformed by the addition of a small but vocal nonethnic membership and a new generation of Sansei Buddhists. Demands for English-speaking ministers resulted in the creation, in 1967, of the Institute of Buddhist Studies, the first graduate-level training program in the United States endorsed by Nishi Hongwanji. This article is an overview of Japanese American Buddhism with a focus on the development of the Nishi Hongwanji Shin Buddhist organizations in the United States. English scholarship on the development of other Japanese Buddhist organizations in the United States is still limited. Throughout the history of Japanese American Buddhism, Nikkei Buddhists negotiated with America’s political institutions and Christian churches, as well as with Euro-American Buddhists, over Buddhist and cultural practices to maintain and redefine their ethnoreligious tradition. Buddhist temples provided the space for them to gather and build a community of shared faith and cultural heritage, discuss their place and the role of Buddhism in American society, and express their concerns to America’s general public.

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Aging: Public Policy  

Jeanette C. Takamura

Public policy advances in the field of aging in the United States have lagged compared to the growth of the older adult population. Policy adjustments have been driven by ideological perspectives and have been largely incremental. In recent years, conservative policy makers have sought through various legislative vehicles to eliminate or curb entitlement programs, proposing private sector solutions and touting the importance of an “ownership society” in which individual citizens assume personal responsibility for their economic and health security. The election of a Democratic majority in the U.S. House and the slim margin of votes held by Democrats in the U.S. Senate may mean a shift in aging policy directions that strengthens Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, if the newly elected members are able to maintain their seats over time. The results of the 2008 presidential election will also determine how the social, economic, and other policy concerns will be addressed as the baby boomers join the ranks of older Americans.