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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Of Shadows and Goldfish: Discovering Japanese Brazilian Dekasegi


Bernardo Carvalho’s Brazilian novel, O sol se põe em São Paulo [The Sun Sets in São Paulo, 2007], alongside Shiozaki Shōhei’s Japanese film, Akaneiro no yakusoku: Sanba do kingyo (Goldfish Go Home, 2012), create postmodern narratives that render Japanese Brazilian dekasegi, or migrant laborers, similar to their depictions in historical archives: invisible and unable to emerge from the shadows. Through scenarios of discovery, the texts reveal how present-day Japanese Brazilian dekasegi inherit their condition as disappointing failures from past generations of dekasegi. This article explores the intergenerational trauma of Japanese Brazilian dekasegi through an analysis that centers the failed neoliberalist fantasy of commodity fetishism. Postmodern hauntology is never resolved in the existing archives. Instead, the texts suggest that a new archive must emerge.

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