The four essays presented in this special section emerged from a conference originally conceived by Miriam Silverberg and organized at the University of California, Los Angeles in collaboration with Mariko Tamanoi in 2007. Each essay takes up some aspect of life in the Japanese colonial empire, exploring the politics of colonial relations beyond the realm of the formal and explicit. They consider issues of bodily habitus, emotional experience both ecstatic and abject, sexual fantasy, and the everyday language of racism. The concept of sensibility ties these investigations of colonial experience to one another. This flexible term encompasses ideas of empirical apprehension of the world through the senses, of affect preceding or exceeding conscious articulation, and of the special cultivation of feeling whose history is inseparable from class and national ideologies. Building on the historiography and the many theoretical contributions in this flourishing field, these essays seek to expand the purview of study of the Japanese empire by bringing to light the connections between colonial sensibility and colonial relations of power.

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