Organizer: Prasenjit Duara, University of Chicago
Chair: Harry J. Lamley, University of Hawai'i, Manoa
Discussant: Barbara J. Brooks, City University of New York
Postcolonial theory has been concerned with West/non-West relationships. The case of Japan in East Asia also suggests similarities in the ways in which colonial subjects maneuvered their identities within dominant colonial discourses. However, the historical links between Japan and its colonies and "informal empire" complicated the relationship between dominant and dominated cultures and subjectivities. Japanese discourses of modernity embedded a counter-Western "orientalism" with a distinctive genealogy and ambivalences about both modernity and the Asian heritage. These ambivalences were often communicated by the adoption of the modern Japanese lexicon throughout East Asia and lent a unique significance to such categories as "culture," "tradition," "modern woman," "native soil," "race," etc., in some cases, till this day.
Our panel will consider how subjectivities are negotiated in relation to Japanese discourses in Korea, Taiwan and Manzhouguo. Robinson will show how the Korean language combats its marginalization by Japanese broadcasting authorities by mimicking Japanese broadcasts. Lamley focuses on the contradictory policies of the Japanese in Taiwan and the differences between postcolonial depictions of Taiwanese identity and the reality of these Japanese ascribed identities. Tamanoi also contrasts the 'then' and 'now' identities of poor Japanese settlers in Manzhouguo and examines their "hidden" narratives of self. Duara explores the impact of the Japanese appropriation of modern Confucian movements in Manzhouguo on middle-class Chinese women. Our discussant Barbara Brooks is uniquely equipped to address both metropolitan discourses of the colonies and the view from the colonies.
Language Wars in Colonial Korea: Assimilation Policy and the Language of the
Michael Robinson, Indiana University
This paper will detail the emerging conflict over language within the world of broadcasting in colonial Korea. Established in 1926, colonial authorities hoped to establish broadcasting as a major institution for cultural and language assimilation in Korea. Within its first years, however, the Japanese confronted a major contradiction in broadcasting. To increase the listenership base, a major source of revenue for creating the broadcast network, the Japanese were forced to increase Korean language programming. Ultimately, they created an all-Korean language radio station. The resulting rise in radio sales and listenership and massive subsidies from Nihon hoso (NHK) insured the financial security of the system. It created, however, an important cultural space for the Korean language. As cultural assimilation campaigns intensified in the mid 1930s, the existence of Korean broadcasting and focused programming on Korean language education, pronunciation standardization, beautification, etc., contradicted official all-Japanese language use policy. What emerged was a rear-guard movement by Korean intellectuals to represent Korean as a language of the modern sphere-a language equal to Japanese. The movement responded, therefore, to Japanese assimilation theory that promoted dual language use colony-but relegated Korean use as necessary only to express the "peninsular" aspects (read traditional, rusticated, agrarian) of Korean identity. This paper will document this struggle by analyzing programming, journalistic commentary on the language debate, and Japanese official commentary in official Government General periodicals.
The Taiwanese Paradox: Colonial Subjects (Hokomin) and/or Imperial Subjects
Harry J. Lamley, University of Hawai'i, Manoa
My paper focuses on two inclusive Taiwanese identities, ascribed by way of colonial discourse, which reflect the paradoxical situation of the Han Taiwanese under Japanese rule. As hokomin, that is, island inhabitants compelled to be registered in the hoko system of mutually responsible households (derived from the old Chinese pao-chia system), they suffered the burdens and indignities of inferior colonial subjects. For many resentful Taiwanese the hokomin label was symbolic of the discrimination they endured at the hands of the Japanese. On the other hand, assimilation implied more equal status and treatment for the Taiwanese, particularly when linked with the emperor's pronouncement of "impartiality and equal favor" (isshi dojin) for all Japanese subjects. After an intensive wartime assimilation policy was initiated in 1937 by way of the Kominka (Imperialization) movement, the komin or "imperial subject" identity seemed indicative of a more favorable (if not an equal) footing for the Taiwanese and even an elevated status for their island homeland vis-à-vis metropolitan Japan and the expanding Japanese empire.
Prior to 1937, Taiwanese spokesmen in Japan protested against the inequalities of the hoko system, but in the colony more subtle types of oppositon were usually directed against the local police who controlled the system. In contrast, resistance to the Kominka movement developed when Japanese authorities attempted to thoroughly "Japanese" the Taiwanese and deprive them of their Chinese heritage. Community protests occurred after local temples were razed. Yet again more subtle oppostion was manifested: for example, through clever Japanese-name changes and in Taiwanese wartime literature and plays. Despite this cultural resistance, the Taiwanese supported the wartime mobilization effort, some in a highly patriotic manner apparently to better their standing as komin and to escape the inferior hokomin status. However, the war ended too abruptly to resolve the paradox as to whether the Taiwanese people would be segregated colonials or merged as assimilated subjects under Japanese rule.
Civilization, Civility and Citizenship in Manzhouguo
Prasenjit Duara, University of Chicago
In their attempt to realize a new conception of civilization combining elements of East and West, Japanese policy-makers in Manzhouguo spotlighted and sought to co-opt a broad middle-class movement that had been sweeping China since the 1910s. These were the modern "redemptive" societies such as the Daodehui (Morality Society) and Hongwanzihui (Red Swastika Society). These societies sponsored a vast range of educational and charitable activities and proposed a vision of modernity in which the overly-materialist aspect of Western civilization would be redeemed by Eastern spirituality. This alternative vision of modernity was obscured by the May 4th narrative which was co-eval with it and probably had far fewer adherents.
Japanese authorities in Manzhouguo tapped the discursive elements within this movement which bore some affinities to its doctrine of the "kingly way" to create both a sphere of civic organizational life as well as an ideological representation with which personal identities could be sutured. In this paper, I consider in particular, the personal narratives of a group of women teachers of the Morality Society. I explore how they develop a sense of their selves by maneuvering or negotiating between the pedagogy of citizenship of the puppet state and the moral commitment generated by this same latter-day Confucian narrative of spiritual civilization.
Manchurian Dreams: Reconsidering Japanese Peasant Settlers from a Postcolonial
Mariko Tamanoi, University of California, Los Angeles
Because of the fact that they too were born into the colonial empires along with entrepreneurs, planters, adventurers, or administrators, the poor also left for the colonies in the history of Japanese imperialism. In this paper, I deal with one such group of the poor, the Japanese peasants impoverished by waves of the Great Depression in the 1920s and left for the Japanese "informal" colony of Manchuria as settlers. Although they emphasize today their identities as the victim of Japanese imperialism, I will focus on the very process in which they became colonizers and ask how they perceived their power as colonizers and what they did with it. All histories are retrospective and ideologically constituted. While these former settlers use certain memories to assert their identities as the victim, I will focus on their "hidden" memories to understand the consequences of colonial power on a segment of Japanese population in the early 20th century.