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In Session: East Asian Feminism Today
4: How Does Literature Talk About Neoliberalism, Gender, and Memory
Monday, March 22, 2021
12:30pm – 2:00pm EDT
Nihon University, Japan
In recent years, there has been growing interest in feminism in Japan. In particular, the conditions that gave rise to the concept of “post-feminism” have been spreading, and the situation since the 2000s is now being re-examined. During this period, there has also been an overlap with the pervasion of a Japanese-style neoliberalism, and within feminist discourse, issues of gender and labor are frequently being questioned. However, the concrete discussion of these issues has developed around a central framework of career women, housewives, and temporary workers, and moreover, only “Japanese” women’s issues are being made visible.
As a result, within the discourse of neoliberalism and gender politics, discussions of minorities within Japan, such as illiterate resident Korean women or women near military bases who do sex work for U.S. soldiers, do not go beyond treating them as simply another framework that is supplementary to the category of “Japanese women.” Literary texts written after 2000, and the discourse surrounding them, are no exception.
How should we intervene in this type of inward-looking framework? In this presentation, I would like to consider these issues while drawing attention to the voices of minority women who lack literacy. More concretely, the texts I plan to address are the collection Watashi mo jidai no ichibu desu [I, too, am a part of this era] (Nihon hyōronsha, 2019), and Sakiyama Tami’s Mienai machi kara shonkanee ga [Folk Song from an Invisible City] (Subaru, May 2006).