Is silence always a virtue? on collective remembrance and forgetting in Julie Otsuka’s novels

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Sammanfattning

Julie Otsuka’s novel When the Emperor Was Divine (2002), which has reached a large international audience and is widely taught in American universities and colleges, is about a Japanese-American family sent to an internment camp during World War II. Her second novel, The Buddha in the Attic (2011) also addresses the internment, albeit more briefly. This paper argues that Julie Otsuka’s novels impact the collective remembrance of the internment, as they bring together Otsuka’s own family past and the national past. In her texts, collective remembrance is the outcome of a negotiation between different groups with the purpose of “maintaining social cohesion and identity” (Whitehead 2009: 152), in which relations of power play a significant part.  Focus is placed on the interaction between remembrance and forgetting, which figures alternately as “a necessary and adaptive reaction to the alternative of painful or destructive memory [and as] the tacit ally of oppression and silence” (Conway and Singer 2008:279). Otsuka’s texts embody this tension, which is analyzed with emphasis on the racialization of the Japanese Americans.  The paper argues that forgetting of the incarceration has been vital to the American self-image and the maintenance of the ‘public virtue’ of equal rights for all citizens. By way of conclusion, the paper queries the possibility of resistance to the internment in relation to the category of race.

OriginalspråkEngelska
StatusPublicerad - 2015
EvenemangNordic Association of American Studies (NAAS), Public Virtue, Private Vice, Oulu University, May 11 – 13, 2015. -
Varaktighet: 1980-jan.-01 → …

Konferens

KonferensNordic Association of American Studies (NAAS), Public Virtue, Private Vice, Oulu University, May 11 – 13, 2015.
Period80-01-01 → …

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  • Humaniora och konst (6)

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