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Japanese imperialism in the Latin American imaginary

Thursday, November 15, 2018 at 5:00pm to 6:30pm

Goldwin Smith Hall, B30 History of Art Gallery
232 East Ave, Central Campus

The East Asia Program (EAP) commences its new East-Asia-Latin-America lecture series with Junyoung Verónica Kim, Assistant Professor of Visual Culture and Media, Latin American Culture and Literature in the Department of Hispanic Languages & Literatures at The University of Pittsburgh.  This cross-disciplinary series created by the EAP director Pedro Erber is co-sponsored by the Latin American Studies Program (LASP) with director, Ken Roberts.


Japanese Imperialism in the Latin American Imaginary

Cornell University, East Asia-Latin America Speaker Series, Paper Abstract

Junyoung Verónica Kim, PhD

University of Pittsburgh

This talk explores the transpacific dimensions of imperialism, colonialism, modernity, race and nation in East Asia and Latin America, by critically juxtaposing the figures of two intellectuals –Enrique Gómez Carillo and Fukuzawa Yukichi – and their works. In 1905, the year that Japan officially emerged on the international arena as an imperial power in Asia after its victory in the Ruso-Japanese War and the subsequent declaration of the Korean peninsula as a Japanese protectorate, many Latin American governments, civil societies and media institutions, became interested in Japan. The Guatemalan intellectual and modernista writer Enrique Gómez Carrillo embarked on his voyage to Japan as part of this larger Latin American venture. His travel writings that posit Japan as an alternative to European modernity that would answer the problems of modernity --such as the dominance of the materialistic and economic over the spiritual and the aesthetic– and provide a model of modernity for Latin America, echoes the narrative economy of Fukuzawa Yukichi’s works (“De-Asianization,” An Outline of the Theory of Civilization) that performatively position Japan as an a priori modern nation. The critical juxtaposition of these two frameworks calls attention to the following questions: first, how does Korea—both as material colony and epistemological blindspot—complicate the smooth narrative of Japanese modernity? Second, how do these views on Japan and Japanese modernity relate to the project of Latin American modernity?  In 1906, The Truth about Guatemala – in which Gómez Carrillo expresses his fervent support of Manuel Estrada Cabrera’s candidacy – is simultaneously published with his travel writing on Asia, From Marseille to Tokyo.  My contention is that Gómez Carrillo’s view of Japan and Korea is intimately linked to his support of a modernization project, which viewed a sector of Guatemala – especially its indigenous populations-- as in need of colonization. Hinged upon a critical juxtaposition of two histories –East Asia and Latin America—and two intellectuals –Fukuzawa Yukichi and Enrique Gómez Carrillo –this talks analyzes the significance of the  “Korean problem” in relation to Japanese modernity and its disavowed relation to Latin America’s own modern project founded on “the coloniality of power.”

BIO: Junyoung Verónica Kim

Junyoung Verónica Kim is Assistant Professor of Visual Culture/Media, and Latin American Culture and Literature, in the Department of Hispanic Languages & Literatures at The University of Pittsburgh. Both transregional and interdisciplinary in scope, her field of research includes modern and contemporary Latin American literature, Latin American and Korean cinema, cultural studies, critical race and gender studies, and immigration history. She has published articles on Latin American literary studies, Korean immigration in Argentina, the Global South project and Transpacific Studies, as well as on the impact of globalization on New Wave Latin American cinema. She co-edits the book series “Historical and Cultural Interconnections between Latin America and Asia” for Palgrave Macmillian. Her book in progress, Asia-Latin America: Transpacific Studies and the Disciplinary Politics of Knowledge, explores the cultural and migratory flows between Latin America and Asia by looking at literature, cinema, and Asian immigration history in Latin America.  

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Department of Theatre, Film and Dance, The Society for the Humanities, College of Arts & Sciences, Latino Studies Program, Anthropology, Asian Studies, History of Art and Visual Studies, East Asia Program, Southeast Asia Program, Center for Intercultural Dialogue, Latin American Studies Program (LASP), Institute for Comparative Modernities (ICM), Asian & Asian American Center, South Asia Program, Media Studies



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Junyoung Verónica Kim

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Department of Hispanic Languages & Literatures at the University of PIttsburgh

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wheelchair accessible; hearing assistance provided upon advanced notice

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the public

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