EALC Lecture Series | Unruly Subjects in Medoruma Shun’s ‘Walking a Street Named Peace’ and Miri Yū’s Tokyo Ueno Station

Davinder L. Bhowmik, associate professor of modern Japanese literature, University of Washington, Seattle

This presentation takes a comparative approach to two works of fiction, ‘Walking a Street Named Peace’ by Shun Medoruma (1986) and Tokyo Ueno Station by Miri Yū (2014) highlighting the parallels between the protagonists as marginalized in terms of class and ethnicity within Japanese society. Professor Bhowmik draws on the work of Tetsuya Takahashi to show how Okinawa (the setting of Medoruma’s story) and Fukushima (the home prefecture of Miri’s protagonist) play a part in a ‘system of sacrifice’ which is oriented around the imperial throne in Japan. Drawing on scholarship by John W. Treat and Norma Field around a taboo of impunity and silence in relation to the Emperor, she argues that the pivotal placement of the system at the center of each of these stories can be seen to point to ongoing silences and inequities arising from unresolved wartime memories.

Sponsored by East Asian Languages and Cultures

Davinder L. Bhowmik is an associate professor of Japanese at the University of Washington, Seattle. She teaches and publishes research in the field of modern Japanese literature with a specialization in prose fiction from Okinawa, where she was born and lived until the age of 18. Other scholarly interests include regional fiction, the atomic bombings, and Japanese film. Her publications include Islands of Protest: Japanese Literature from Okinawa (co-edited with Steve Rabson, 2016); Writing Okinawa: Narratives of Identity and Resistance (2008); and “Temporal Discontinuity in the Atomic Bomb Fiction of Hayashi Kyōko (in Ōe and Beyond: Fiction in Contemporary Japan, 1999). Currently she is writing a manuscript on military basetown fiction in Japan.