Professor Annmaria Shimabuku | TR: 12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
This seminar addresses the biopolitics of Japanese empire through literary, historical, and philosophical texts that touch upon the areas of Ezo (Hokkaido), the Ryukyus (Okinawa), Taiwan, and the Korean peninsula, in addition to mainland Japan. Paying close attention to the economic crises from the 1920s, we will examine how intellectuals and literary figures in both the metropole and colonies started to envision a new world history that could surmount the limitations of European imperialisms through a regionalism that would come under the official heading of the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere. Integral to this regionalism was a new conception of life itself in relation to sovereignty, the reproduction of labor power, and language. Using translation theory, we will explore the compulsion to render life intelligible, how it was translated into an intelligibility, and what became of unintelligible life amidst the cataclysms of Japanese fascism and its postwar/postcolonial reincarnations in Japanese democracy. We will read literary texts from Chiri Yukie, Kim Saryang, Zhuoliu Wu, Abe Kōbō, Medoruma Shun, and Sakiyama Tami, and theoretical texts from Nishida Kitarō, Uno Kōzō, Tanabe Hajime, Tosaka Jun, Naoki Sakai, and Harry Harootunian, among others. All readings are in English and no prior knowledge of Japan is required.