Inaugural Workshop on Zainichi Literary Studies
For the full list of speakers and program, please visit here.
Friday, April 21 & Saturday, April 22, 2017, 9:30 AM – 6:30 PM
Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Zainichi (lit. “residing in Japan”) Koreans are the largest diasporic community in Japan, and
their writings comprise a diverse – and sometimes critically divisive – literary corpus. Despite the
important role zainichi Korean writers have played in Japanese(-language) literary production,
however, scholarship on their texts remains underrepresented in North America, not to mention
within Japan itself. The proposed workshop seeks to address this lacuna by interrogating the limits
and possibilities of “zainichi” as a locus of literary analysis. Rather than assuming a priori that some
absolute category called zainichi literature exists, the workshop will explore how and why the term
“zainichi” has come to operate as a particular mode of literary discourse in modern Japan.
As many scholars have pointed out, conceptualizing minority literature as a distinct genre
runs the risk of naturalizing and reifying a notion of national literature that is based on asymmetrical
power relations. The critical inquiries that the workshop participants will think through together
include, but are not limited to, the following:
Zainichi literature is conventionally defined as texts written in Japanese by ethnically Korean
writers, but what texts/authors have been rendered invisible by this definition?
How do we integrate the open and overdetermined relationship of text, writer, and audience
into our analyses of “zainichi literature”?
What kinds of conversations do we see occurring between zainichi Korean authors and their
Japanese and Korean peers, and what tensions and alliances emerge from those
How do we unpack the discursive paradigms of modern Japanese literature, modern Korean
literature, and (post)colonial literature in a way that does not presume the inevitability of the
national frameworks in which they were produced?
Our ultimate aim is to encourage new research on race/ethnicity, nationhood, empire, and
diaspora through the study of zainichi literary texts, a body of work that deserves much more
attention in academia than it has currently received. To that end, we have invited a number of
emerging and mid-career scholars from a number of different fields to present at the workshop.
Papers will be circulated to all invited participants in advance so as to promote detailed, incisive,
and meaningful discussion during the workshop. Moreover, each paper will be assigned two
reviewers who will provide written feedback. Additionally, during each session, one outside
discussant will offer general comments and questions, while facilitating a conversation among the
participants on the paper under discussion.
(April 20, 2017: Arrival Reception Dinner)
Day 1: April 21, 2017
9:30am Opening Remarks by Kiri Lee (Professor of Japanese at Lehigh University)
10:00am Session 1: Change and Continuity Across the “August 1945” Divide
2:00pm Session 2: Narrativizing Colonial Memory in Korea and Japan
4:30pm Open discussion
Day 2: April 22, 2017
9:30am Session 3: Ideologies of Gender and Language in Literary Production
1:30pm Session 4: (De)Constructing National Canons
4:00pm Open discussion
6:00pm Closing Remarks by Nobuko Yamasaki (Conference Organizer)
(April 23, 2017: Departure)