Negotiating “Japan”: Transnational Assemblages in Text and Media

Conference: AAS-in-Asia2020 (AAS-in-Asia2020)
Title: Negotiating “Japan”: Transnational Assemblages in Text and Media
Stream: Literature
Presentation Type: Panel Presentation
Xavi Sawada, Yale University, United States (organizer, presenter)
Joelle Nazzicone, Harvard University, United States (chair, discussant)
Ajjana Thairungroj, Princeton University, United States (presenter)
Yusung Kim, Harvard University, United States (presenter)
Takuya Maeda, Brown University, United States (presenter)


This panel critically examines ongoing negotiations of Japanese national identity across borders. In particular, it explores how texts, spaces, and images come to be imbued with geopolitical significance and sentiment — while simultaneously providing the means of disrupting such hegemonic structures through their movements across national boundaries. In exploring these materials’ movements, form, and reception, the presenters cast light on the performance of race, gender, and class in an array of restlessly mobile literary, visual, and material genres. We contend that examining these materials specifically in their cross-cultural contexts permits greater insight into the nuances and contingencies underwriting the nation and its attendant narratives. Takuya Maeda explores how the “floating city” came to be seen as a panacea to the problems confronted by both Japan and the United States as they forged a new postwar transpacific order; Yusung Kim challenges monolithic Cold War narratives by interrogating the scientific and technological dreams of the future in Japanese and Korean science fiction and youth magazines; Ajjana Thairungroj rereads Yoshioka Shinobu’s Nihonjin gokko as a de-territorializing negotiation of gender and Thai-Japanese identity at a moment of Japan’s pronounced economic precedence in Southeast Asia; and Xavi Sawada analyzes Hasegawa Kaitarō’s forgotten writings that construct a transnational, multi-lingual Japanese masculinity by evoking his experiences as an immigrant to the United States in the 1920’s. By placing these diverse and vivid materials in conversation, the panel probes into the ways border-transgressing aesthetic practices have historically articulated post-national subjectivities in Japan.