Synopses & Reviews
This special issue explores the devastated terrain where the peculiar form of East Asian colonial modernity and militarism intersects with gender and sexuality. The contributors suggest that in building the modern nation-state, through the inversion of public and domestic space, Japan created a state-administered system of licensed prostitution within itself and its colonies. The “Comfort Women” system that drafted over 200,000 Asian women into sexual slavery for the Japanese military during the Pacific War, is a testimony of the racial and gender contradictions of the Japanese Empire. While the essays in the issue attempt to untangle this grotesque history—repressed and misrepresented in the name of nationalism in both Japan and its former colonies—they also question the nationalistic inclination of the movement that aims to reaudit this history.
Extending its interrogation to the Cold War power dynamics and contingent economic development that have contributed to the silencing of the colonial past in East Asia, these essays also examine “the Tokyo Trials” and the discourses of postwar compensation and apology. They not only reveal the capitalistic incentives behind the nominalism of compensation but also unmask the Janus face of humanism, which claims to be universal while excluding Asian women from the category of humanity.
This exceptional collection includes artwork by two Korean comfort women, Tok-kyong Kang and Sun-dok Kim, as well as pieces by Japanese artists and Korean American artists. Other features include a narrative composed of several interviews with comfort women and a conversation between the Nobel laureate Kenzaburo Oe of Japan and South Korean dissident poet Chi-ha Kim.
Contributors. Chungmoo Choi, Chin Sung Chung, Norma Field, Yuki Fujime, Tok-kyong Kang, Chi-ha Kim, Hyun Sook Kim, Daisil Kim-Gibson, Jin Kyung Lee, Sasha Y. Lee, Yong Soon Min, Kenzaburo Oe, Kerry Ross, Yoshiko Shimada, Youn Ok Song, Won Soon Park, Kyung sik Suh, Taeko Tomiyama, Melissa Wender, Hyanah Yang
This special issue of positions examines the "Comfort Women" system that drafted 200,000 Asian women into sexual slavery during the Pacific War, and attempts to entangle its history and cultural consequences.