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Is silence always a virtue?: on collective remembrance and forgetting in Julie Otsuka’s novels
Kristianstad University, Faculty of Education, Avdelningen för humaniora.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3020-7814
2015 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation only (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Julie Otsuka’s novel When the Emperor Was Divine (2002), which has reached a large international audience and is widely taught in American universities and colleges, is about a Japanese-American family sent to an internment camp during World War II. Her second novel, The Buddha in the Attic (2011) also addresses the internment, albeit more briefly. This paper argues that Julie Otsuka’s novels impact the collective remembrance of the internment, as they bring together Otsuka’s own family past and the national past. In her texts, collective remembrance is the outcome of a negotiation between different groups with the purpose of “maintaining social cohesion and identity” (Whitehead 2009: 152), in which relations of power play a significant part.  Focus is placed on the interaction between remembrance and forgetting, which figures alternately as “a necessary and adaptive reaction to the alternative of painful or destructive memory [and as] the tacit ally of oppression and silence” (Conway and Singer 2008:279). Otsuka’s texts embody this tension, which is analyzed with emphasis on the racialization of the Japanese Americans.  The paper argues that forgetting of the incarceration has been vital to the American self-image and the maintenance of the ‘public virtue’ of equal rights for all citizens. By way of conclusion, the paper queries the possibility of resistance to the internment in relation to the category of race.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015.
National Category
Humanities and the Arts
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hkr:diva-19845OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hkr-19845DiVA, id: diva2:1345315
Conference
Nordic Association of American Studies (NAAS), Public Virtue, Private Vice, Oulu University, May 11 – 13, 2015.
Available from: 2019-08-23 Created: 2019-08-23 Last updated: 2019-09-04Bibliographically approved

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Ahlin, Lena

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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