Facing "Comfort Women": Representations and Reckonings
6:30 – 8:30PM
This panel brings in conversation scholars and writers thinking through the representations and circulation of images of so-called “comfort women,” the over 200,000 mostly Korean girls and women forced into sexual labor by the Japanese Imperial Army before and during World War II.
In Embodied Reckonings: “Comfort Women,” Performance, and Transpacific Redress (University of Michigan Press, 2018), Elizabeth Son (Northwestern University) examines the early 1990s performance practices—protests, tribunals, theater, and memorial-building projects—of “comfort women” and their supporters, investigating the relationship between redress, performance, and the law. Emily Jungmin Yoon’s (University of Chicago) poetry collection A Cruelty Special to Our Species (HarperCollins, 2018) demonstrates this history’s enduring impact in the diaspora by raising questions about collective memory and inherited trauma. Laura Hyun Yi Kang’s (University of California, Irvine)* Traffic in Asian Women* (Duke University Press, September 2020) examines the prolific representation and circulation of “Asian women” through the convergence of new communication technologies, governance regimes, and political-economic shifts at the end of the twentieth century. Karen Shimakawa (NYU Performance Studies) moderates.