Fragmenting History: Prostitutes, Hostesses, and Actresses at the Edge of Empire
Yamasaki, Nobuko Ishitate-Okumiya
MetadataShow full item record
By exploring various figures of gendered and sexualized female workers, such as street prostitutes, hostesses, comfort women, teachers, idols, and actresses, this dissertation reveals that women's bodies were highly contested territories of knowledge in the Japanese Empire. Their bodies were sites of political struggle where racial, national, and class differences met, competed, and complicated one another. The dissertation elucidates the processes by which those women's bodies became integral parts of Empire building during the imperial period (1894-1945), suggesting that its colonial and imperial legacies are still active even today. Unlike some preceding works on Japanese colonial literature have shown, many of these figures fall away from normative discourses of the trope of family contributing to Empire building. In other words, theirs is a politics of the perverse. With careful attention to intersections of race, sex, class, and affect, the dissertation contributes to the study of Japanese Empire, which tends to focus on men and avoids subtle readings of women's bodies. Chapter one, "`Genuinely' Japanese and `Falsely' Japanese in Hayashi Kyôko's `Yellow Sand,'" unpacks race-based Japanese nationalism by closely analyzing the tension between a Japanese street prostitute and middle-class Japanese mothers in Shanghai at the onset of the second Sino-Japanese War. Chapter two, "Resistance and Protest by Diasporic Korean Women: Lee Yang-ji and Theresa Hak Kyung Cha," metaphorically places Lee and Cha into dialogue, revealing that Korean women's bodies are political battlefields. Chapter three, "More as a Critic than as a Participant of the Empire: `Landscape with a Patrolman: A Sketch from 1923,'" analyzes how the ideological structure of the Japanese Empire regulates, fixes, and generates everyday life in colonial Korea, arguing that Nakajima Atsushi's insight both implicitly and explicitly stood against the Japanese Empire's totalitarian ambitions. The chapter demonstrates the similarity of Nakajima's major and minor works, revealed in the rhetorical choices he makes and his ethical orientation toward others. Chapter four, "I Perform, therefore I am not: Ri Kôran's Building of the Empire," focuses on the film <italic>Suzhou Nights</italic> (1941) and elucidates the working dynamics of Japanese language education, bio-power, (carefully avoided) inter-racial marriage, and (implicitly avoided) inter-racial reproduction. The chapter argues that the film approximates the Nazi's contemporaneous idea of racial purity. A translation of Ri Kôran's speech on comfort women as a feminist activist appears in an appendix. The speech was published at the turn of the millennium.