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Ford 1927 - A Translation With Commentary


Lisa Bachem, Nadeschda (2017). Ford 1927 - A Translation With Commentary. Asiatische Studien / Études Asiatiques, 71(2):645-666.

Abstract

After Japan’s defeat in World War II in 1945, 6.9 million Japanese had to repatriate from the country’s overseas possessions. These returnees, the so-called hikiagesha, constitute a particular case within Japan’s postcolonial memory discourse. Having lost their perceived home in the colonies, they first became fugitives and subsequently an Other within Japanese society as they grew to be associated with the now undesired memory of Japanese imperial aggression. Some turned to writing to make their voices heard in the postcolonial Japanese narrative on the colonial period. A critically acclaimed representative of the hikiagesha literary scene is Kobayashi Masaru, born in 1927 in Chinju, Kyŏngsang-namdo Province, in what is now South Korea. The present text is a translation of one of his most widely read works, Ford 1927 (Fōdo senkyūhyakunijūnana-nen, 1956), published in 1956 in Shin Nihon bungaku (New Japanese Literature). Ford 1927 deals with a Japanese protagonist who comes down with tuberculosis at the front in Manchuria and subsequently reminisces about his childhood in 1930s rural Korea. His memory revolves around a Turkish family who, as proud owners of the only car in the village, call into question the colonial power hierarchy between the Japanese and Korean population. The text is remarkable in its multi-faceted description of the ambivalent interactions between Korean and Japanese characters and it differs from the often simplistic framing of colonial-period power relations in the political discourse of both countries. Through the ambiguous character of the Turk, the piece rejects a monolithic reading of “West” versus “East Asia” and instead underscores Japan’s complex positionality of “Orientalised coloniser” from a postcolonial perspective. Ford 1927 thus grants us insight on a much-neglected piece in the jigsaw puzzle of East Asian colonial memory – the hikiagesha as living reminders of Japan’s imperial project and their awkward position in-between different discursive strands of postcolonial Japan.

Abstract

After Japan’s defeat in World War II in 1945, 6.9 million Japanese had to repatriate from the country’s overseas possessions. These returnees, the so-called hikiagesha, constitute a particular case within Japan’s postcolonial memory discourse. Having lost their perceived home in the colonies, they first became fugitives and subsequently an Other within Japanese society as they grew to be associated with the now undesired memory of Japanese imperial aggression. Some turned to writing to make their voices heard in the postcolonial Japanese narrative on the colonial period. A critically acclaimed representative of the hikiagesha literary scene is Kobayashi Masaru, born in 1927 in Chinju, Kyŏngsang-namdo Province, in what is now South Korea. The present text is a translation of one of his most widely read works, Ford 1927 (Fōdo senkyūhyakunijūnana-nen, 1956), published in 1956 in Shin Nihon bungaku (New Japanese Literature). Ford 1927 deals with a Japanese protagonist who comes down with tuberculosis at the front in Manchuria and subsequently reminisces about his childhood in 1930s rural Korea. His memory revolves around a Turkish family who, as proud owners of the only car in the village, call into question the colonial power hierarchy between the Japanese and Korean population. The text is remarkable in its multi-faceted description of the ambivalent interactions between Korean and Japanese characters and it differs from the often simplistic framing of colonial-period power relations in the political discourse of both countries. Through the ambiguous character of the Turk, the piece rejects a monolithic reading of “West” versus “East Asia” and instead underscores Japan’s complex positionality of “Orientalised coloniser” from a postcolonial perspective. Ford 1927 thus grants us insight on a much-neglected piece in the jigsaw puzzle of East Asian colonial memory – the hikiagesha as living reminders of Japan’s imperial project and their awkward position in-between different discursive strands of postcolonial Japan.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:Journals > Asiatische Studien / Études Asiatiques > Archive > 71 (2017) > 2
Dewey Decimal Classification:Unspecified
Language:English
Date:27 January 2017
Deposited On:13 Jan 2020 11:19
Last Modified:28 Jul 2020 14:15
Publisher:De Gruyter
ISSN:0004-4717
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1515/asia-2017-0042

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