Remembering Internment: Historical, Literary, and Spatial Memories of Japanese Canadians
|Keywords:||日加拘禁營;日加補償協議;歷史記憶;小川樂的《歐巴桑》;亞加文化研究;小川樂屋;再現政治;Japanese Canadian internment;Japanese Canadian redress settlement;historical memory;Joy Kogawa’s Obasan;Asian Canadian Studies;Historic Joy Kogawa House;politics of representation||Issue Date:||2012||Abstract:||
The 1988 Japanese Canadian redress settlement marked a moment when collective memories of the expulsion, detention, dispossession, deportation, and dispersal of Japanese Canadians in Canada during and after World War II—in short, what I would call memories of Japanese Canadian internment—became recognized by and integrated into an official history of Canada. Despite such an apparently coherent account of a lost-and-found Japanese Canadian memory in Canadian national history, Roy Miki, a key Japanese Canadian scholar and activist, cautions that Japanese Canadian redress is not to be understood as simply a logical resolution of a conscientiously regretful government, and that it instead should be viewed as “an unusual achievement by a small group of citizens who, because of a nation’s violation of their citizenship rights, launched a movement to negotiate an acceptable settlement with the federal government.” Here, Miki’s reminder highlights the 1988 redress settlement as an intricately engineered official sanctioning of memories of Japanese Canadian internment, which takes as its price and prerogative the re/coding and the de/limiting of those memories.
This thesis investigates memories of Japanese Canadian internment mediated through specific historical, literary, and spatial representations produced before, during, and after redress. In doing so, it not only analyzes what is remembered about internment, but also asks how these memories are constructed through disparate frames of representation. Chapter Two of this thesis focuses on the historiography of internment with specific attention paid to Ken Adachi’s The Enemy That Never Was (1976) and Ann Sunahara’s The Politics of Racism (1981). I argue that these texts have foregrounded Japanese Canadians’ identity shift from race in itself to class for itself during the redress movement. Chapter Three turns to literary representations of internment in Joy Kogawa’s novel Obasan (1981) and its critical reception. While Kogawa’s text has generated diverse, and sometimes conflicting, theorizations of Japanese Canadian textual politics in the arena of Asian Canadian Studies, I argue that these theorizations have yet to adequately account for the miscellaneous ways internment is being remembered by Japanese Canadians today. Chapter Four draws attention to spatial representations of internment in a commemorative site, Historic Joy Kogawa House (established in Vancouver in 2006). While the monumentalization of Joy Kogawa’s childhood house was deemed ethical by some and offensive by others, I argue that a simple ethical dichotomy would not sufficiently valorize both cultural activists’ and dissident Japanese Canadians’ vexed investments in the Kogawa House memoryscape. Through an analysis of these historical, literary, and spatial memories, this thesis underlines how representations of Japanese Canadian internment have culminated in power as well as crisis and have continued to be in process well past 1988.
|Appears in Collections:||外國語文學系|
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