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Transpacific Anomalies and Alterities: Decolonial Possibilities through Japanese Brazilian Literature

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In the early twentieth century, the Japanese empire colonized extensive regions in East Asia and the Pacific, while its state government simultaneously sponsored and managed Japanese immigration to Brazil. Despite the continuity between these imperial expansionist practices, dominant historical narratives do not usually portray Japanese immigration and imperialism in connection with one another. The discrepancy stems largely from disciplinary boundaries based upon geopolitical divisions of the world that separate Asian and Latin American concerns from one another. However, Transpacific Anomalies and Alterities: Decolonial Possibilities through Japanese Brazilian Literature addresses this oversight by examining Japanese Brazilian literature within the context of Japanese imperialism and illustrating how certain literary texts illuminate the veiled links between immigration and empire. The dissertation engages a transpacific vantage point grounded in feminist and decolonial analytics to read a multilingual archive that juxtaposes 20th century Japanese Brazilian prose fiction with dominant sociopolitical discourses found in Japanese and Brazilian newspapers, migration advertisements, and government reports. It unpacks how the literary stories—in comparison with the dominant accounts—provide an alternative picture of Japanese immigration to Brazil by calling attention to the racialized, gendered, and sexualized dynamics of the Japanese state-managed, settler colonialist system. In particular, it focuses on literary texts that follow the experiences of queer and female subjects “anomalous” to the traditional heteronormative, male-centered immigrant narrative, as well as texts that detail encounters between Japanese immigrants and racialized figures of “alterity” like Afro-Brazilians, Native Brazilians, and Okinawan immigrants. Through utilizing an intersectional lens, Transpacific Anomalies and Alterities unpacks the incommensurate experiences of power at the limits of the Japanese Brazilian community between anomalous subjects just inside its imagined boundaries and subaltern subjects outside them. The comparison between these various positionalities, as argued in the dissertation, brings into focus the multiple modes of accountability required to address Japanese imperialism’s mutual constitution by heteropatriarchy and colonial racial capitalism and make strides toward decolonial liberation in the transpacific.

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This item is under embargo until January 18, 2025.