Etsuko Taketani is Professor of American Literature at the University of Tsukuba. She is the author of U.S. Women Writers and the Discourses of Colonialism, 1825-1861 (2003) and The Black Pacific Narrative: Geographic Imaginings of Race and Empire between the World Wars (2014).
In the days immediately after September 11, 2001, US media coverage continuously referred to the terrorist attacks as "the second Pearl Harbor." The events of September 11 and their aftermath--resurgent nationalism and xenophobia in particular- first and foremost convey the urgency of learning from, rather than repeating, the past. The new war on terrorism, which has heralded us all into the 21st century, also, at the same time, directs our gaze back to the beginning of the 20th century, to Pearl Harbor, and begs us to look at new ways of understanding that conflict and, perhaps, of avoiding the nuclear holocaust that closed that chapter of history. This project proposes to do just that by recovering and examining a transnational partnership that African American writers envisioned in the Pacific and Asia during 1900-1945. By examining African American writers, whose nationalism was not always aligned with the nation-state (hence was not identical with or reducible to us nationalism), this project aims to move beyond the limits and exclusions of nationalism to examine the roots and possibilities of the US-Japan (and global) conflict as well as of transnational cooperation, past and present.