1st Edition

Dangerous Memory in Nagasaki Prayers, Protests and Catholic Survivor Narratives

By Gwyn McClelland Copyright 2020
    246 Pages
    by Routledge

    246 Pages 33 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    On 9th August 1945, the US dropped the second atomic bomb on Nagasaki. Of the dead, approximately 8500 were Catholic Christians, representing over sixty percent of the community. In this collective biography, nine Catholic survivors share personal and compelling stories about the aftermath of the bomb and their lives since that day.

    Examining the Catholic community’s interpretation of the A-bomb, this book not only uses memory to provide a greater understanding of the destruction of the bombing, but also links it to the past experiences of religious persecution, drawing comparisons with the ‘Secret Christian’ groups which survived in the Japanese countryside after the banning of Christianity. Through in-depth interviews, it emerges that the memory of the atomic bomb is viewed through the lens of a community which had experienced suffering and marginalisation for more than 400 years. Furthermore, it argues that their dangerous memory confronts Euro-American-centric narratives of the atomic bombings, whilst also challenging assumptions around a providential bomb.

    Dangerous Memory in Nagasaki presents the voices of Catholics, many of whom have not spoken of their losses within the framework of their faith before. As such, it will be invaluable to students and scholars of Japanese history, religion and war history.

    Part 1: Legacy of Survival  1. Fissures  2. Survivors  3. Bodies  Part 2: Reinterpreting the Bomb: Archetype, Monument and Cry  4. Providential Atomic Bomb?  5. A-Bombed Mary  6. Urakami Cathedral: A Fifth Persecution  7. Water! Atomic Cries and Echoes of the Past  Part 3: Memory’s Future  8. Dangerous Hope  9. Lament, Anger and Protest  10. Conclusion


    Gwyn McClelland holds a Master of Divinity from the University of Divinity, Melbourne, Australia and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Japanese history from Monash University. He is the winner of the 2019 John Legge prize for best thesis in Asian Studies, awarded by the Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA).