Buraku and the Writing of Ethnicity
Publication Year: 2011
In Nakagami, Japan, Anne McKnight shows how the writer’s exploration of buraku led to a unique blend of fiction and ethnography—which amounted to nothing less than a reimagining of modern Japanese literature. McKnight develops a parallax view of Nakagami’s achievement, allowing us to see him much as he saw himself, as a writer whose accomplishments traversed both buraku literary arts and high literary culture in Japan.
As she considers the ways in which Nakagami and other twentieth-century writers used ethnography to shape Japanese literature, McKnight reveals how ideas about language also imagined a transfigured relation to mainstream culture and politics. Her analysis of the resulting “rhetorical activism” lays bare Nakagami’s unique blending of literature and ethnography within the context of twentieth-century ideas about race, ethnicity, and citizenship—in Japan, but also on an international scale.
Published by: University of Minnesota Press
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Th is book could not have been signed, sealed, and delivered without the Most of this research was conducted under a Japan Foundation grant and further study under Komori Yōichi’s direction at Komaba, Tokyo Uni-versity. Very litt le of the infrastructure of the project could have been done without the inroads through scholarship and bureaucracy and the camara-...
Introduction: I Is an Other
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How do you write yourself into a literature that doesn’t seem to know you exist? In 1990, shortly before his death, Nakagami Kenji gave a speech at the Frankfurt Book Fair on precisely that subject. His talk was titled “Am I Japanese?”—a question that may have seemed odd to his listeners, most of whom had come to hear the musings of an “insider” of Japanese literature.1 ...
1. An Archive of Activism
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Th e most important task carried out by early twentieth-century buraku activist thinkers was craft ing a history of their own that would establish a place for the buraku within a national historiography. While the Meiji gov-ernment made eff orts to create a body of citizens that was less stratifi ed than it had been under the Tokugawa status system, ethnologists and writers ...
2. Confession and the Crisis of Buraku Writing in the 1970s
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Th is chapter shows how the theme of confession preoccupied writers in the 1970s who sought to place buraku sett ings and characters at the cen-ter of their work. Since Th e Broken Commandment, confession had been an instrumental part of literary characterization—and a heavily freighted one—for representing buraku characters and adjudicating how they fi t in ...
3. Constituents of National Literature
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In 1955, fi ve years aft er winning the Nobel Prize, William Faulkner visited Japan as a guest of the U.S. State Department’s Exchange of Persons Divi-sion. He later described himself and his Japanese hosts as “two people running at top speed on the opposite sides of a plate-glass window.”1 Despite or because of this disconnect, his works became perhaps the most att entively ...
4. Inaudible Man
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In a 1968 novella titled On the Japanese Language (Nihongo ni tsuite), Nak-agami takes received tradition from both African American and buraku writings and puts it in the service of a modernist fi rst-person narrative.1 Th is chapter focuses on a set of close readings to explore how these allusions are woven into the text of On the Japanese Language to bear specifi c reference ...
5. The 38th Parallax: Nakagami in/and Korea
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Th e ideas of exchange and exile punctuated Nakagami’s works. Dur-ing a period of intense travel beginning in the late 1970s, he transposed these questions from the immediate domestic context of Kumano and kokubungaku (national literature) to the regional context of East Asia. He paid special att ention to the national context of Korea, itself fraught with ...
6. Subculture and the South
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Distribution of fan-based subcultures like character goods and anime has fl ourished outside Japan since the mid-1990s. At the same time, most new research and venues that explore these new subculture exchanges and their social forms have almost entirely dropped prose fi ction from their analysis.1 Th e Superfl at aesthetic comes from the fi eld of visual fi ne arts.2 ...
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I began Nakagami, Japan by showing how the notion of parallax was inte-gral to Nakagami’s writing and how his doubled point of view att empted to run counter to the myth of Japan’s postwar world as a monocultural, homogenous society that prevailed in the 1970s and 1980s. Parallax provided a way to talk about the two viewing positions of buraku and ...
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Page Count: 296
Publication Year: 2011