In Women’s Performative Writing and Identity Construction in the Japanese Empire, the author examines how writers captured various experiences of living under imperialism in their fiction and nonfiction works. Through an examination of texts by writers producing in different parts of the empire (including the Japanese metropole and the colonies and territories of Taiwan, Korea, and Manchukuo), the book explores how women negotiated the social and personal changes brought about by modernization of the social institutions of education, marriage, family, and labor. Looking at works by writers including young students in Manchukuo, Japanese writer Hani Motoko, Korean writer Chang Tŏk-cho, and Taiwanese writer Yang Ch’ien-Ho, the book sheds light upon how the act and product of writing became a site for women to articulate their hopes and desires while also processing sociopolitical expectations. The author argues that women used their practice of writing to construct their sense of self. The book ultimately shows us how the words we write make us who we are.
Satoko Kakihara is associate professor of Japanese at California State University, Fullerton.
Introduction: Writing and the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere
Chapter One: Education—Students and the Language of Establishing Imperial Identities
Chapter Two: Marriage—Hani Motoko and the Everyday Contradictions of Love and Happiness
Chapter Three: Family—Chang Tŏk-cho and the Resistance of Communities of Women
Chapter Four: Labor—Yang Ch’ien-Ho and the Living of Modern Selfhood
Conclusion. Womanhood Between Theory and Practice
About the Author
Kakihara’s Women’s Performative Writing and Identity Construction in the Japanese Empire is a fascinating study of how women’s writings in Korea, Japan, Manchuria, and Taiwan negotiated subjectivities under imperialism and modernity. Focusing primarily on education, marriage, family, and labor – social institutions that constructed modern womanhood through much of East Asia – this rigorously researched and accessibly written monograph expertly analyzes how narratives in a range of languages and genres both resisted and reproduced the categories as well as the social norms and expectations to which women were subjected. Women’s Performative Writing will be of great interest and importance to scholars and students of gender studies, comparative literature, world literature, and East Asian studies.