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2019 ‘Contesting Canada’s Narrative of Nation through Canadian Nikkei Children’s Literature’. ZINBUN, 49 (March)
This paper argues that the representations of Canadian Nikkei identities in modern Canadian Nikkei children’s literature about incarceration contest Canada’s narrative of nation. Adopting a postcolonial framework based on Homi Bhabha’s ideas on nation and narration, I use an interview with Canadian Nikkei children’s book author Susan Aihoshi combined with close readings of three works by Canadian Nikkei authors to show how they query the narrative of nation during the period in and around the Second World War. The paper uses the children’s books Naomi’s Road (2012) by Joy Kogawa, A Child in Prison Camp by Shizuye Takashima (1991), and Torn Apart by Susan Aihoshi (2012). It highlights how, despite unequal access to political power, media, and other resources; Canadian Nikkei writers can challenge long-held ideas of what makes the nation.
2018 ‘The Ambivalent Model Minority: Japanese-Canadians and Canadian Multiculturalism’. OMNES: The Journal of Multicultural Society, 9:1 (31 July), pp. 1-29
This paper synthesizes the development of Canadian multiculturalism and its effect on Japanese-Canadians. It argues that although Japanese-Canadians are showcased as a model minority in modern multicultural Canada, their key representative voices exhibit an ambivalent attitude towards multiculturalism. Since the 1960s, Japanese-Canadians have been featured as a model minority due to their high levels of education, professional success, integration, and English language proficiency. However, using the documentary film One big hapa family and an interview with its director Jeff Chiba Stearns, along with other works by Japanese-Canadian cultural producers, we can see that they exhibit a vacillating attitude towards multiculturalism. Applying discourse analysis through a postcolonial theory lens combined with Will Kymlicka’s “The Three Lives of Multiculturalism,” I demonstrate how historical trauma distorts the effect of multiculturalism on Japanese-Canadians. Although they may now be viewed by the white majority as a model minority, their history of suffering racism in Canada and previous labelling as yellow peril causes a caution towards representations of them by government, media, and society. The study shows the importance when administering Canadian multiculturalism of considering immigrant identity and voice, political and social conditions in the past, and political economy in the present.
2017 ‘Rooted-transnationalism and the Representational Function of Food in Hiromi Goto’s “Chorus of Mushrooms”’. Contemporary Japan, 29:2 (7 July), pp. 132-147
This paper uses a close reading combined with Koichi Iwabuchi’s nascent concept rooted-transnationalism to illustrate the representational function of food in Hiromi Goto’s Chorus of Mushrooms. By examining the representational function of food, we can understand how Goto chooses to arbitrate the belonging of the Canadian Nikkei characters in her novel. The three generations in the matrilineal Tonkatsu family begin the novel with varying (almost stereotyped) cultural identities, but by understanding how their identity is represented through food as the novel progresses we can see these identities worked into a nuanced dialogue with the modern diaspora condition. We learn that explanations of diaspora identity in literature using transnationalism as a framework can be enhanced by considering cultural identity in terms of its rootedness, particularly how it interacts with sociocultural factors at varying spatial levels. Understanding the representational function of food in a rooted-transnational context shows how food problematises the belonging of Nikkei yet can also provide emancipation from the challenge of diasporic cultural identity. Through this analysis of Goto’s novel, we can gain a deeper appreciation of the complexity of modern Nikkei diaspora cultural identities.
Editor-Reviewed Journal Articles
2017 “Research and Life in Japan By a JSPS Fellow No. 41 Dr. Lyle De Souza” JSPS Quarterly, Spring 2017 number 59