Japanophone Literature? A Transpacific Query on Absence

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This essay inquires into the significance of the absent category of Japanophone literature in light of the recent rise of a global discourse on Sinophone literature and other postcolonial critical genealogies. This discussion of broader postcolonial taxonomies sets the stage for an investigation into the position of Japan as a minor empire in relation to its European counterparts. The precarious location among divided literary fields of colonial Korean writers, such as Kim Saryang, provides a segue into linking contested postcolonial and cold war legacies in the Asia-Pacific.








Nayoung Aimee Kwon

Associate Professor in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Nayoung Aimee Kwon (권나영 クォン ナヨン エイミー) is an award-winning multilingual author and a professor in Duke University's Department of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies; Program in Cinematic Arts; and Program in Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies. She is the Founding Director of Duke's Asian American & Diaspora Studies Program and co-founded the Andrew Mellon Games & Culture Humanities Lab, both in 2018. She served as the Founding Director of Duke Engage Koreas in 2014 and co-directs this global service learning program based in Durham and Seoul working with refugee and migrant communities from around the world. 

Interdisciplinary research expertise include literary criticism and translation studies; film and media studies; post/colonial history and theory; gender and sexuality studies, focusing on comparative colonial legacies in global Asian, inter-Asian and transpacific—Asia/Americas—historic and cultural encounters. Current research examines the contested politics of cultural memories across colonial and cold war violence and their lasting generational trauma in Asia and across the Asia-Pacific.  Select publications include Intimate Empire (Duke University Press, Korean translation from Somyŏng Press, Japanese translation from Jinbun Shobo, Russian translation forthcoming), Theorizing Colonial Cinema (in collaboration with philosopher Takushi Odagiri and film scholar Moonim Baek, Indiana University Press, Korean translation forthcoming), Antinomies of the Colonial Archive (in collaboration with historian Takashi Fujitani) and essays in Modern Fiction StudiesJournal of Asian Studies, Postcolonial Studies, Social Text, Sanghŏ Hakpo, Cross-Currents, and various anthologies and collected volumes. With collaborators at the University of Netherlands, the Hague, and elsewhere, she is a developer of hybrid platform infinite strategy games (ISG) about historical conflicts. Her work has been recognized globally by multiple Fulbright grants, National Endowment for the Humanities, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Korea Foundation, Japan Foundation, Northeast Asia Council of the Association for Asian Studies, Korean Literature Translation Institute, John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute, Duke University Office of the Provost, Duke University Arts & Sciences Council, among others. She works in five languages and is a translator of literature and manhwa/manga from Korean and Japanese into English. She was a poetry editor in New York before entering academia and holds a PhD from UCLA and BA from Duke University.

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