What is Japanophone Literature?

Le 19 février 2016

Dans le cadre du séminaire d’Alain Delissen (EHESS),

Nayoung Aimee Kwon

(Duke university)

donne une conférence intitulée

 “What is Japanophone Literature?“

à la salle de conférences (rez-de-chaussée), de 10h à 12h

Maison de l’Asie, 22 avenue du président Wilson, Paris 16e.


In the aftermath of Europe’s empires, linguistic continuities such as Anglophone and Francophone writings by postcolonial authors emerged as bona fide cultural legacies and fields of inquiry. A robust production and consumption of such writings and critical debates gave rise to canons of writers and literary works that circulated widely through debates on World Literature at large and Postcolonial Literature in particular. In the case of the Japanese empire, there exists a significant body of literary works that emerged from linguistic comings and goings across imperial borderlines. However, the notion of a Japanophone Literature, is rather unfamiliar, if not altogether strange, not only to a global readership, but even within Japan and its former colonies in the region. This paper seeks to examine the significance of the absence of a discourse on Japanophone Literature as a bona fide category of postcolonial inquiry. This estrangement, which was engendered through contested entanglements of what I call proximate, or intimate, empires, offers insight into how the region’s imperial histories were selectively forgotten locally and globally.

Nayoung Aimee Kwon is an associate professor of Korean and Japanese Cultural Studies in the Department of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies, Program in the Arts of the Moving Image, and Women’s Studies, at Duke University. She is Co-Director of Duke Engage South Korea, a service-learning program working with North Korean refugee children and the author of Intimate Empire: Colonial Modernity and Collaboration in Korea and Japan (Duke UP, 2015). Her publications have appeared in Journal of Asian Studies, Postcolonial Studies, Social Text and elsewhere.


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