The U.S.-led post-conflict transitional justice in the Asia-Pacific War’s aftermath has not only rendered certain violences illegible and unredressable. It also left many colonial legacies intact. In Cold War Ruins: Transpacific Critique of American Justice and Japanese War Crimes I argued that, much more than products of the East Asian state policies capitalizing on the anti-Japanese sentiments or the ethnonational politics of recognition in North America, the transnational efforts especially intensifying since the1990s to bring justice to the victims of Japanese imperial violence must be seen as a trace of failed justice—in particular, the failure of decolonization—under the Cold War. This presentation considers the Japanese conservative revisionism in the transpacific “Comfort Women” redress culture. Once critiqued conjunctively across the seemingly discrepant categories and geographies, Japan’s revisionism and the post-1990s redress culture of which it is a part can reveal the disavowed history of violence and entanglement, while pointing to the limits of pursuing justice within the bounds of Cold War formations and their structuring legacies.
Lisa Yoneyama received her B.A. in German Language Studies and Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology at Stanford University. Her research focuses on the memory politics of war and colonial empires, gender and militarism, transnationalism, nuclearism, and the transpacific Cold War U.S.-Asia relations. Yoneyama taught cultural studies, gender studies, and Asian and Asian American studies in Literature Department, University of California, San Diego, where she also served as Director for the Program for Japanese Studies and Critical Gender Studies. Since 2011 Yoneyama has been teaching at University of Toronto. Her book publications include: Hiroshima Traces: Time, Space and the Dialectics of Memory (University of California, 1999), a co-edited volume, Perilous Memories: Asia-Pacific War(s) (Duke University Press, 2001), Violence, War, Redress: Politics of Multiculturalism (published in Japanese, Iwanami Shoten, 2003), and Cold War Ruins: Transpacific Critique of American Justice and Japanese War Crimes (Duke University Press, 2016).
Sponsored by the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies.
About the Talk
In this presentation, Prof. Fujitani reads Clint Eastwood’s critically acclaimed Unforgiven (1992) against Lee Sang-il’s “remake” (Yurusarezaru mono, 2013) of the original. While the few Anglophone critics who have reviewed Lee’s version have generally treated it as a competent but fairly unremarkable copy of the original, Fujitani argues that the film, set in Hokkaidō, is in many ways a far more radical and challenging exploration of key themes taken up by Eastwood. These include violence, law, the outlaw, sovereign power, the right to kill, and historical accountability. At the same time, Lee takes up several issues that Eastwood simply leaves as background to his story — in particular race, indigeneity, and settler colonialism. While the Western has been a staple genre in Eastwood’s long career leading up to Unforgiven, it is the first and so far only Western made by the much younger Lee. Lee’s first film, Chong (1998, 2001), is in part based upon his own life growing up as an ethnic Korean in Japan. His more well-known films include Hula Girl (2006), The Villain (Akunin, 2010, and Rage (Ikari, 2016).
About the Speaker
Takashi Fujitani is Professor of History at the University of Toronto where he is also the Dr. David Chu Professor in Asia-Pacific Studies. His major works include: Splendid Monarchy (UC Press, 1996); Race for Empire: Koreans as Japanese and Japanese as Americans in WWII (UC Press, 2011) and Perilous Memories: The Asia Pacific War(s) (co-edited, Duke U. Press, 2001). He is also editor of the series Asia Pacific Modern (UC Press). He is currently working on three major projects with the tentative titles: Cold War Clint: Asia and the World of an American Icon; Whose ‘Good War’?: The Asia Pacific War(s); The Sovereign Remains: Essays on the Japanese Monarchy and Questions of Sovereignty.
Co-sponsored by the departments of East Asian Languages & Cultural Studies, Asian American Studies, Film & Media Studies, and History as well as the Reinventin Japan Research Focus Group.