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"And we knew it would only be a matter of time until all traces of us were gone": Julie Otsuka and the Japanese-American internment during World War II
Kristianstad University, School of Education and Environment, Avdelningen för Humaniora.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3020-7814
2013 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation only (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In her two novels When the Emperor Was Divine (2002) and The Buddha in the Attic (2011), Julie Otsuka explores the experiences of Japanese immigrants in the US before and during World War II.  In this paper, her works are considered as narratives of cultural remembrance employing certain motifs that articulate the experience of ‘relocation,’ or internment, of Japanese Americans during the war. The paper argues that the tropes of disintegration, guilt, imprisonment and dislocation are critical to Otsuka’s representation of the internment.  Furthermore, these tropes are most significantly mediated through gender and narrative perspective. The collective point of view, used partly in When the Emperor was Divine and throughout The Buddha in the Attic, resonates with Otsuka’s conception of the Japanese as a “communal people” allowing her to “tell everyone’s story.” This notion forms part of my examination of how the collective voice underscores the themes of collective remembrance and social critique.    

Finally, the paper considers When the Emperor was Divine and The Buddha in the Attic in relation to Anne Whitehead’s observation (in Memory 2009:14) that “forgetting […] shapes and defines the very contours of what is recalled and preserved; what is transmitted as remembrance from one generation to the next.” Otsuka’s texts are regarded as memory work revolving around the tension between remembrance and forgetting. Silence and forgetting are a significant part of the practices of remembrance of the Japanese-American internment, suggesting the simultaneous resilience and vulnerability of the Japanese Americans.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013.
National Category
Humanities and the Arts
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hkr:diva-19916OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hkr-19916DiVA, id: diva2:1347234
Conference
Nordic Association of American Studies (NAAS), Currents and Countercurrents, Karlstad University, May 24 – 26, 2013.
Available from: 2019-08-30 Created: 2019-08-30 Last updated: 2019-09-02Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf