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In Session: Gender and the Proletariat in Transwar Japan
1: Outside Prison: Proletarian Literature and the Family
Friday, March 26, 2021
3:00pm – 4:30pm EDT
Nagoya University, Japan
In this presentation, I will focus on a proletarian literature anthology, edited by Eguchi Kan and Kishi Yamaji and published by Kaizosha in 1931, from a gender perspective. 1931 was the year when the proletarian literary movement was reorganized, the government's oppression was intensifying and the movement’s organ Senki was repeatedly banned. In order to secure funding for the movement, it was necessary to monetize proletarian literature. The commercialization of their works would seem to contradict the ideology of proletarian literature that criticizes capitalism, but their explanation was the generation of “relief aid” for family members of comrades in prison. In other words, the presence of a wife and a child provided a rhetoric that obscured this contradiction. What's more interesting is that the stories in the anthology that was supposed to support the wives was the place where the conflict with gender politics occurs as seen in Kishi Yamaji’s “Teishukuna tsuma.” Wives became victims of movement because of poverty and loneliness, and were subject to sexual advances as seen in Kobayashi Takiji’s “Kyuen nyusu No.18 furoku.” Could such stories be an encouragement for comrades in prison and wives? In this presentation, I will discuss the issue of how the position of women and sexuality is functioning, as well as how it causes ataxia and fissures as the constitutive outside (Mouffe, Laclau) of the movement.