Japan

Organized Panel Session

2 - Chasing the Phantom Butterfly: The Becoming-Minor of Takagi Kyōzō and "Manchurian Literature"

Friday, March 23
10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Location: Park Tower 8222, Lobby Level

There has been increasing interest in the issue of Japanese imperialism and cultural production in northeastern China (Manchuria), and the Japanese satellite state of Manchukuo. The importance of Manchuria to the wartime state’s imagination of “total empire” can hardly be overstated, and its cultural producers simultaneously stood at the leading edge of “Japanese” literary and visual arts, while often acting as tacit “unofficial propagandists” in service to the state’s expansionary program. Scholars have already examined the Manchurian writings of bundan establishment writers from Natsume Sōseki to Anzai Fuyuei; what the present paper adds to this ongoing discussion is a particularly underappreciated perspective: that of the producers of a compromised “minor literature.” I tentatively call these colonialist texts—created by Japanese citizens in Japanese for a Japanese audience—compromised, because they exist within a matrix of self-contradictory hierarchies of social power spread across ethnicity, gender, and locality (including juxtapositions of naichi homeland vs. gaichi colony, Shinkyō vs. Dairen and other localities, urban vs. rural). This paper follows how the impossible processes of “becoming-minor” are aborted across the career of one Takagi Kyōzō, a stubbornly minor-like writer whose career straddled a near twenty-year occupation of Manchuria. Takagi was highly mobile, and his literary writings at different times in different locations simultaneously helped construct social imaginaries of Manchuria, and of his home region of Tsugaru, in northern Honshu. His story speaks to his vital historical moment precisely because of his inability to struggle against interpellation by the state and his literary peers.

Joshua Solomon

Hirosaki University, Aomori, Japan

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2 - Chasing the Phantom Butterfly: The Becoming-Minor of Takagi Kyōzō and "Manchurian Literature"



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