Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor, Asian Studies, University of British Columbia

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2010
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
East Asian Languages and Cultures, Columbia University
Coercive Collaborations: The Production and Reception of Japanese-Language Literature by Korean Writers, 1930s-1980s

With the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War in 1894, Japan officially embarked on an enterprise of territorial expansion, becoming the first East Asian nation in the modern era to build and maintain an imperial empire. In the years following Japan's war defeat in 1945, critics and scholars from former colonies came to retrospectively schematize the literary texts produced during the colonial period into the dichotomy of “collaborationist” and “resistance” literature. Meanwhile, the term zainichi (lit: “residing in Japan”) came to be applied to the Korean diasporic community in Japan, and zainichi literature roughly defined as those texts written in Japanese by ethnically Korean writers living in Japan. My dissertation project questions the persistent use of these labels – collaborationist, resistance, zainichi – which have been treated as static, absolute categories; instead, I ask how and why they emerged as a predominant mode of literary discourse in twentieth century Asia. My project is twofold in nature. First, I examine the rise of Japanese-language literature by Korean colonial subjects in the late 1930s and early 1940s, reassessing the sociopolitical factors involved in the production and consumption of these texts. Second, I trace how postwar reconstructions of ethno-linguistic nationality gave rise to the specific genre of zainichi literature in Japan. By bringing these two valences together, I am able to highlight the continuities – rather than the disjunct – among the established fields of colonial-period literature, modern Japanese literature, and modern Korean literature. I also call attention to the historical specificity of the fields themselves, and propose alternate ways to consider the relationship between nihongo bungaku (“Japanese-language literature”) and kokubungaku (“Japanese national literature”). This project will open a much-needed field of inquiry, bringing colonial-period and zainichi texts in dialogue not only with each other but also with other literary movements in Japan and abroad.