9-11 Sep 2015 Paris (France)
Language, power and imperial memory in postcolonial Japanese and South Korean short fiction
Nadeschda Bachem  1@  
1 : School of Oriental and African Studies  (SOAS)  -  Website

This paper explores Japanese and South Korean short fiction from 1953 to the 1960s that deals with the history and effects of Japanese imperialism in Korea. Guiding questions are: How is the memory of the colonial period narrated in both countries? What inferences are drawn from this experience concerning a collective Self and Other? How is imperialism and its aftermath constructed as a national trauma, and which meaning is assigned to the events in regard to a collective identity? The paper seeks to answer those questions in order to explore how the construction of memory created a discourse that shapes Japanese-Korean relations to the present day.

Focus will be on the theme of powerlessness and the multi-faceted play of inferiority and superiority with particular regard to language. The paper will investigate how impotence within the colonial power structure is often expressed in lingual terms; as speechlessness in face of the Japanese or Korean lingual Other, or as the need to adapt to the respective hegemonic language. On a broader scale, the paper finds itself in the tradition of an East Asian comparative literature and furthermore attempts to locate the specific Japanese-Korean case within the overall frame of postcolonial studies.

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