The home as a space of re-education: Imperialism, military occupation, and housekeeping manuals


While much is known about the imperial home and its place in the colonial hierarchy and ‘civilizing project’, less is understood about the occupation household and its relationship to ‘re-education’. In the occupier home, the occupier wife managed domestic workers made up from the occupied, a role that performed the power and prestige of the occupier nation. But the occupier woman was also tasked with tutoring her staff in the preferred ways of housekeeping and family life, a form of re-education in the home. One way to understand this responsibility and compare it to colonial contexts is through the housekeeping manual. With a focus on occupied Japan (1945–1952), this article compares and contrasts two manuals, F.A. Steel and G. Gardiner’s The Complete Indian Housekeeper and Cook from British India (first published 1888) and The American Way of Housekeeping (1948) by the American women of the occupation, to demonstrate a textual and ideological genealogy between these and similar kinds of contemporary texts. In doing so, the article not only brings greater attention to the occupier wife, but reveals fundamental connections between the role of domestic re-education in imperial and occupation homes and its underlying importance in the performance of everyday power.


Military occupation, imperialism/colonialism, women, household manuals, re-education

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