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Title: Remnants of empire : colonial memory in Japanese fiction and South Korean short fiction, 1953-1972
Author: Bachem, Nadeschda Lisa
ISNI:       0000 0004 7234 0688
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis compares the memorial discourse on Japanese imperialism in Korea (1910-1945) in postcolonial South Korean and Japanese short fiction. It focuses on texts written after the Korean War (1950-1953) to 1972. The thesis highlights the production of a collective memory in both national literatures on the historical events as well as the respective ethno-national Self and Other in the crucial years before and after the Japan-Republic of Korea normalisation treaty in 1965. I rely on concepts coined both within and outside of East Asia in the fields of postcolonial, collective memory and gender studies and make them productive for the East Asian case. In detail, I focus on two social groups that hold key roles for the way colonial memorial narratives came into being after the Korean War but that have so far largely escaped scholarly scrutiny with regard to the momentum of coloniality: Japanese returnees (hikiagesha) and the South Korean post-war generation (chonhu sedae) that ascended the literary stage from the mid-1950s onwards. I investigate the recurring themes of 1) gendered allegories towards the ethno-nation, 2) nostalgia in the representation of colonial Korea and 3) language in relation to the fragility of (post)colonial discourse and the postcolonial South Korean doctrine of Korean monolingualism. Based on previous research that argues that East Asia is a historically grown literary landscape with overlaps and shared points of experience, I maintain that the distinctly East Asian genre of short fiction (Japanese 'tanpen shōsetsu', Korean 'tanp'yŏn sosŏl') provides a formal framework for a comparative study of East Asian literature. In my thesis, I demonstrate how literature functions as a site where repressed memories can resurface and contradictions of (post)colonial discourse are negotiated. Secondly, I highlight commonalities between Japanese and South Korean writers in their memory of the colonial period, thereby underscoring the deep historical connections between the cultural production of both countries. Finally, I argue that colonial-period discourses regain currency in postcolonial East Asia. These discursive remnants shape the two ethno-nations, which had to re-invent themselves as modern nation states within the Cold War world order following the colonial-period narrative of naisen ittai (Japan and Korea as One).
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral