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Nomads Still: Zainichi-Koreans and Contemporary Japanese Theatre

Nomads Still: Zainichi-Koreans and Contemporary Japanese Theatre
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  INTRODUCTION  This dissertation will explore how the nomadic imaginary of the Koreandiaspora in Japan is embodied in the theatre it creates. Despite increasinglysettled conditions in Japan, the marginalized group of people I am calling“  Zainichi -Koreans” (Koreans resident in Japan) have kept alive a nomadicconsciousness in the “contact zone” of Japan. By using a “contact perspective”as defined by Mary Louise Pratt, I will show how contemporary theatre done by  Zainichi -Koreans involves corporeal and shifting conceptual borders,boundaries, interstices and frontiers that are national, racial, ethnic, internal,external, social, economic, historical, geographic, and artistic. In analysinghow  Zainichi -Koreans use theatrical activities to address their “permanent” and “temporary” existence, divided political loyalties and tenuous civilliberties within Japanese society, politics and culture, this dissertation willsuggest ways in which Korean diasporic theatre may be paradigmatic of thefaltering steps Japan is taking toward an as-yet-to-be-imagined global andmulticultural society. I try to show how various aspects of Korean diasporictheatre by playwrights and directors such as Tsuka Kôhei, 1 Yû Miri, ChongWishin and Kim Sujin, signify the imaginary of a nomadic condition that isreplacing the longstanding  Zainichi -Korean imaginary of a unified Korea. “  Zainichi- Korean ” An entirely effective and succinct English language label that draws out 1 Throughout this dissertation I will use the Japanese and Korean order, surname followed bygiven name, for all Japanese and Korean personal names, unless otherwise noted. 1  all the social, political and cultural issues of the Korean diaspora in Japan doesnot seem to exist, therefore, my term “  Zainichi -Korean” is strictly provisional.My purpose in using a constructed hybrid Japanese and English term is toforeground the Korean diaspora’s indeterminate, hybrid and nomadic status in Japanese society and law. Their temporary status is implied by the word  zainichi , meaning “resident in Japan,” a term applicable to any foreigner.  2  However, since I am a Western academic, who was at times resident in Japan,and not a Korean who is resident in Japan, it cannot be emphasized toostrongly that even my provisional term “  Zainichi -Korean” (as would be true of almost any label) may be essentializing because it draws on existingtaxonomies of difference to reinscribe the center and the margins.Furthermore, a single term such as this obscures the differences amongpeople within the group, because any foreign individual’s perception of his orher relationship to Japan may give rise to a variety of experiences of   zainichi existence.In addition, the English word “Korean” may not fully represent thepolitical and geographical division of the Korean peninsula that isacknowledged in the rather long and cumbersome Japanese term: “specialSouth Korean / North Korean residents in Japan” ( tokubetsu zainichi kankoku / chôsen jin ), Although a factor, the political divide between North Korea andSouth Korea is less germane to this dissertation than the very fact that all“  Zainichi -Korean” people live in Japan, in what is for most, a marginalizedexistence in Japan. When I need to refer specifically to people from either theDemocratic Peoples Republic of Korea, or the Republic of Korea, I will use theterms North Korean and South Korean, respectively. However, I will use the 2 Leo Ching, Becoming “Japanese”: Colonial Taiwan and the Politics of Identity Formation ,(Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2001) 33.  general term Korean to distinguish between people residing in the Koreanpeninsula from  Zainichi -Koreans. I will call theatre created by  Zainichi -Koreans“Korean diasporic theatre.” 3  I have emphasized the contingency of my term, because among thediversity of   Zainichi -Koreans there are those who may want to hang on to theiridentity as Koreans and/or return to a unified Korean homeland, while otherswant to pass, naturalize, assimilate or empower a  zainichi -Korean identity.Among the artists that I consider, each of these identifications has beensignificant in a variety of ways and for a variety of reasons. In fact, myexamination of their theatrical work may bring out more reasons why any labelis problematic. Contact Zones Mary Louise Pratt, in her book Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing andTransculturation , defines “contact zones” as “social spaces where disparatecultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in highlyasymmetrical relations of domination and subordination – like colonialism,slavery, or their aftermaths as they are lived out across the globe today.” 4 A“contact perspective” allows a view of the indeterminate performative spaceswhere contemporary Japanese and  Zainichi -Korean existence intersect and are“constituted in and by their relations to each other.” 5 For the purposes of thisdissertation, theatre and theatre-making are sites that can be constructed as 3 There may be theatre by the Korean diaspora in other countries such as China and the USA,however, I am only referring to this phenomenon in Japan where they are former colonialsubjects and confront oppression as a result of that status.4 Mary Louise Pratt, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation , (London and New York: Routledge, 1992) 4.5 Pratt, Imperial Eyes , 7. 3  such indeterminate spaces. The subject relationships within theatre-makingenterprises (such as the relationships between actors, playwrights, directors,designers, producers and audience members) and those among characterswithin plays, make theatre an effective a place to look at the shifting cultural,social and political phenomena surrounding  Zainichi -Koreans.Korean diasporic theatre is a “contact zone” that allows  Zainichi -Koreansto present and (re)present the multiple aspects of their subject positions asthey are constructed within hegemonic Japanese society and culture. Thenomadic imaginary of the Korean diaspora in Japan has taken shape over timeand provides a measure of agency to  Zainichi -Koreans to resist the Japanesehegemony.A nomadic consciousness remains active in response to the Japanesepeoples’ deep-seated ideology of Japan as a homogeneous nation-state. Thatideology, and its attendant need to preserve the traditions that support it byimagining a pure blooded Japanese “race,” has had direct impact on Koreandiasporic theatre. Because discourse of the Japanese as a homogeneous, pureblooded people is so pervasive in Japan, non-Japanese residents mustconstantly search for strategies that will give them some degree of agency tosecure their continued existence and sense of subject position in Japan.  Zainichi -Koreans have tried various performative strategies; some havepassed as Japanese, others have assimilated to Japanese society and culture,and still others have openly accepted their  Zainichi -Korean identity. My thesisis that Korean diasporic theatre has literally embodied the permutations of those strategies over the past four decades. Furthermore, those embodimentsretain a  Zainichi -Korean character, but in their most recent manifestationsseem to be expanding to include other marginalized groups of recent  immigrants from all over the globe. Outline of the Dissertation Korean diasporic theatre, ideologies of the Japanese nation-state, andtradition are three general topics addressed in this dissertation. In ChapterOne, I will consider their interplay through theories that apply to modern Japanese theatre, intercultural theatre, and neo- and/or post-coloniality. Onereason the contact zone of Korean diasporic theatre has come about isbecause  Zainichi -Koreans seem to have an abject position in Japanese culturethat is partly a response to the ideology of the Japanese nation-state. Somemajor aspects of Japanese national ideology are “race” and secularism. Otherareas of particular interest to this dissertation imbricated in the ideologicaldiscourse surrounding “race” and secularism are (neo)nationalism, citizenship,imaginaries of blood purity, Japan’s colonial project and Japanese ambivalentdesire for the Other. These ideologies, beliefs and desires are contested whenconcepts of the traditional meet the everyday, and when nihonjinron (discourse on the Japanese) meets notions of the universal and themulticultural in today’s transnational economy. Other areas that seem to bearon the contact zone of Korean diasporic theatre are the creative andtheoretical forces shaping Japanese theatre in the modern period. To interpret Korean diasporic theatre, nation-state ideologies andtradition, I will employ both Japanese and Western formulations. These include Julia Kristeva on the abject, Michael Omi and Howard Winant’s definition of “race,” Paul Gilroy’s arguments “Against Race,” Rustom Bharucha on thesecular, Neil Lazarus and Harry D. Harootunian on modernity, Joseph Roach onsurrogation, Sakabe Megumi on reflexivity, and Tsurumi Shunsuke on tenkô , or5

Exercício 4

Feb 11, 2018
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