Organized Panel Session
The triple catastrophe in Fukushima on March 11, 2011 has generated a myriad of discourses, including a renewed discussion of the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This panel seeks to enrich the discourse by placing the Fukushima disaster in dialogue with these previous tragedies. Rather than seeing the Fukushima disaster as an isolated event, the panel treats it as part of the ongoing nuclear issues stretching back over half a century in Japan. Within this larger historical scope, the panelists bring to the surface the under-represented voices that open the possibility for new narratives and literary sensibility. Bernard Shee addresses complex structures in which information is circulated and manipulated within the nuclear discourse through Abe Kōbō’s 1984 text, which is narrated as a reclusive man’s conflicting impulses as to how to respond to nuclear threats. Brian Bergstrom highlights the gendered experience of historicity by examining the work of a woman author and artist who probes a central paradox of the nuclear: the imperative to represent it despite its unrepresentable nature, questioning representation itself as a gender-marked concept. Tomoko Takeuchi Slutsky continues the discussion of the unrepresentable via animal representations in multiple texts from 1945 to the present, putting the categories of humanity and animality into question. Lastly, Alex Bates demonstrates how texts in which an animal plays a vital role illuminate recurring social issues, notably, the surge of anti-foreigner sentiment in the aftermath of national disasters from the pre-WWII period to 2011.