Transpacific Nonencounters: Race, Literature, and Thought at the "Ends" of Area
Transpacific Nonencounters conceives a transpacific approach to reading an archive of global racial politics through the comparison of twentieth century Japan and Mexico. Building on a framework I call nonencounters—the comparative study of texts and contexts based on the absence of connectivity—I trace unexpected points of connection seemingly disparate and unrelated histories of twentieth century discourses on race and racism through a critical study of discourses in intellectual history, literature, and cinema. Beginning in the mid-1920s, prominent male intellectuals in both regions concurrently developed what were framed as antiracist critiques of European and Anglo-American white supremacy, proposing new world orders that challenged Eurocentric notions about cultural, national, and racial identity. Yet, even as they argued for the redefinition of cultural nationalisms based on ethnic and regional inclusivity, these critiques were often paradoxically received and taken up in the nationalistic politics of the late 1930s and 40s. Through its cross-archival study of the role of antiracist thought in shaping cultural and national identity during the twentieth century, my dissertation project opens up an unanticipated history of cross-cultural dialogues and shared traditions in modern intellectual and literary trends. Nevertheless, I argue that these intellectual histories of antiracism must be read through their context as chauvinistic exchanges that occurred in the exclusion of marginalized voices—in particular, in the exclusion of women’s voices—and thereby signal the absence of other encounters in the shaping of what we can call global modernity. Analyzing diverse visual and textual media, I ask: How does the consideration of race as interlocked with gender destabilize the way that we study global modernity? What futures can we imagine if we think about the relationship among intellectual production, nationalism, and empire through the vantage points of comparison and dislocation? In grappling with these questions, this dissertation emphasizes the importance of work that engages transnational feminist literary and theoretical practices as the guiding frameworks for critical response. Arguing for a more expansive definition of what it means to compare literary and historical contexts usually relegated to the nation-bound models of area studies, Transpacific Nonencounters examines how understanding the gendered legacies of intellectual production as embedded in the entangled traumatic histories of imperialism and racism may reveal new venues for disciplinary disruption. Through a dedicated comparative lens, this project extends debates in critical studies on Asia and Latin America that engage the limits of area studies frameworks while contributing to conversations in critical race studies, gender and feminist theory, and transpacific studies.
Comparative Literature; Latin American Literature; critical race studies; Transpacific studies; Gender studies; Asian literature
de Bary, Brett
Sakai, Naoki; Caruth, Cathy; Bachner, Andrea S.
Asian Literature, Religion and Culture
Ph.D., Asian Literature, Religion and Culture
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis