Heritage and the Politics of Culture
The Sense of South was a book published in 1941 before Japanese troops invaded Malaya. The author wrote down his Japan-centrist geopolitical perspectives of the southern countries. The ”south” as expressed in his book written during 1940's is undoubtedly a metaphor and a concept of the forging of Japanese impression toward the southern otherness since the late 19th century. Since the mid Meiji era, South had been seen an imaginative geography projected from this desire, based on which various kind of expressions were developed in the construction of discourse on military advance to south. This presentation problematizes the empiricist claim to absolute knowledge of the past, which seeks to intellectually legitimate itself by claiming access to the "truth" of past experience and will focus on the groups of workers who travelled oversea to work in Malaya as prostitutes, prison guards and war artists during the rise of the Japanese Empire. One of the main focus would be Karayukisan, which the word used traditionally to describe rural Japanese women who emigrated to Southeast Asia since the mid 19th century, and made a living through prostitution. The international traffic in women for prostitution, far from a contemporary phenomenon, actually arose well over a century ago with the first wave of globalization. In this presentation will look into the historical archive, war films, diaries and oral history in 1940s to revisiting its history to mapping these personal memory and identity fluctuate under the struggle between country and geopolitical regions.