Identity or Alterity? Reading and Writing Japanese-language Literature in Brazil, 1917-1942


Location: 1030 Jenkins Nanovic Halls

Ted Mack Headshots 68


In this talk Ted Mack will present a history of the marketplace for Japanese-language literary texts in Brazil, prior to the Second World War, a brief discussion of one award-winning story written there during that period, Sonobe Takeo's "An Age of Speculative Farming" (1932), and concluding comments on what this may tell us about 'modern Japanese literature.' The talk will add to a growing discourse on the colonial and minority literary practices that challenges a naturalized conception of a homogeneous ethnic nation-state and an unproblematic national literary culture by drawing attention to another “marginal” element, that of the migrant, or diasporic, communities in the Americas. Rather than merely making the rubric of national literature more inclusive, or proposing an alternative rubric, however, he will speculate on the necessity and impact of such collective rubrics themselves.


Edward Mack is Associate Professor of Japanese at the University of Washington in Seattle. His first book, Manufacturing Modern Japanese Literature: Publishing, Prizes, and the Ascription of Literary Value (Duke, 2010), combined an empirical study of the literary publishing industry in Japan with a disciplinary critique focused on the notion of literary "purity." His latest book, Acquired Alterity: Migration, Identity, and Literary Nationalism (California, 2022), is structured similarly, combining a history of Japanese-language literary activities in Brazil with a continuation of the disciplinary critique, this time focused on the concept of the nation as it is applied to literary texts.

This lecture is part of Border Crossings in Asian Humanities, a series examining transnational Asian experiences. Professor Mack's lecture is cosponsored by the Liu Institute and the Kellogg Institute for International Studies