Matsumoto 2014 Memorials

Title Information

Speaker: Noriko Matsumoto

Title: The Past of Others

Subtitle: Korean Memorials in a New York Suburb

Conference: XVIII ISA World Congress of Sociology (July 13-19, 2014)

Place: Yokohama

Date: July 15, 2014

Language: English

Keywords: 20th Century21st Century | Japanese History, Korean History, U.S. History | Types: "Comfort Women", Wartime Rape / Asia-Pacific War

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Additional Information

Speaker: Noriko Matsumoto, Department of Sociology, University of Vermont

Abstract: »Since the first decade of the twenty-first century, memorials to an aspect of the Korean past, that of the "comfort" women, forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army during the 1939-45 war, have been founded in the U.S. by members of the Korean diaspora. The issue of "ianfu" (Jap. "comfort women") remains contested political and moral terrain between the two countries. The fundamental narrative--war-time victimization of women and the aim of concretizing their memory, coupled with Japan's official reluctance to acknowledge the role of colonial aggressor--has produced tension between the Korean and Japanese communities in the U.S. At the local level, such monuments have encountered resistance from native-born residents on the basis of lack of pertinence of memories of incidents in East Asia to the American land. The Korean American initiative towards inscription of a passage from their national history into the American context may be considered symptomatic of wider cognitive and social shifts in immigrant adaptation. Memorial-building is a political act par excellence. The present paper analyzes recent polemic and resolutions regarding the erection of a memorial in a particular metropolitan suburban community in the New York area. The location has been the subject of rapid immigration from Korea since the 1990s, with Koreans now constituting some forty percent of the local population. Despite the presence of local opposition, activists' demands for the right to found a memorial to the memory of comfort women have been upheld by the municipal government. The case touches on many of the intricate relationships contingent on contemporary immigrant integration. Boundary drawing, the changing significances attached to race and ethnicity, and an increasing sense of entitlement in being both "ethnic" and "American" have been integral to this contest and negotiation regarding collective memory.« (Source: XVIII ISA World Congress of Sociology)

Wikipedia: Comfort women, Japanese war crimes, Pacific War, War rape

Added: June 7, 2014 | Last updated: June 7, 2014