Living with the Bomb: American and Japanese Cultural Conflicts in the Nuclear Age

By Mark Selden; Laura Hein | Go to book overview

they would be the present's "own concerns"--that is, so that these critical ethnic memories would not become assimilated into the nation's "homogeneous, empty" history of linear progress but would instead "place the present in the critical position."32

In May 1996, the Korean atom bomb memorial had not been relocated. The earlier proposal, a plan devised solely by top-level representatives of Mindan and Soren, suggested the addition of three Chinese characters that read chosonsaram, or chosenjin in Japanese, and placing it alongside the word hangusaram, or kankokujin in Japanese. The memorial would then explicitly refer to the nationals of two separate countries. The plan was not executed because of disagreements over the rewriting of the memorial's other inscriptions. Yet even if the memorial had been relocated under this latest proposal, if it had not in some way addressed not only the history of Japanese colonialism but, more important, postwar failures to deal with that history, it would once again have contributed to the taming of ethnic memories, effacing critical differences in remembering. In a similar way, no matter how inadequate they might appear to be, the Japanese politicians' recent official admissions of and apologies for Japan's colonial and military aggressions--that is, their attempts to move beyond amnesia and silence-- pose serious threats to heretofore marginalized memories. To cope with the current reprogramming and domesticating of popular memories requires a dialectics of memory in which the long-suppressed past can be "redeemed" without compromising its power to challenge yet another hegemony of remembering and forgetting.


Notes
1.
See, for instance, Hiroshima-ken Chosenjin Hibakusha Kyogikai 1979.
2.
See Kang and Kim 1989; Field 1993; and Lee and De Vos 1981.
3.
My critique of the totalizing concept of Korean ethnicity owes much to feminist writers who have examined the essentialist, determinist, and foundationalist notions of "community," "identity," and "subject." They have argued that these politically salient configurations should be conceptualized as, for instance, multifaceted locations for struggles, differentiations, and displacements. See Martin and Mohanty 1986; de Lauretis 1986, 1990; and Anzaldua 1987, among others.
4.
Young 1993 (6-7). Despite this Durkheimian overtone in his discussion of collective consciousness, James E. Young's series of studies on the Jewish Holocaust monuments ( 1988, 1993) nonetheless offers many insights relevant to the study of Hiroshima's memorials. These include an attentiveness to the ways in which the performative dimension of memorial icons intervenes in present politics and the current history-making process.
5.
Elsewhere, I discuss various other sites over which there is a tension between attempts to domesticate memories of the Hiroshima holocaust and resistance to such dominant forces. See Yoneyama 1994 and forthcoming.

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