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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien

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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien
Jochi Kioizaka Bldg. 2F
7-1 Kioicho, Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo 102-0094, Japan

03 – 3222 5077
03 – 3222 5420


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The DIJ History and Humanities Study Group is a forum open to scholars working on Japan in any field of the humanities. It is organized by Barbara Geilhorn and Isaac Gagné.

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Inscribing Edible Otherness: Intersections of Food, Gender, and Ethnicity in Contemporary Zainichi Poetry

30. Januar 2019 / 18:30 Uhr

Kristina Iwata-Weickgenannt, Nagoya University / Trier University

This presentation explores the intersections of food, gender, and ethnicity in contemporary zainichi Korean poetry. Far more than simply a biological necessity, “food serves as an indicator of social identity, from region to ethnicity, from class to age or gender” (Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz 1993: 90). In zainichi Korean literature, representations of food, cooking, and eating often do not primarily serve to add realism to the work. Rather, food is used as shorthand for the ties that persist between Korean immigrants and their pasts, and to indicate the degree of their assimilation in Japan. This function is particularly clear in poetry, which, due to its brevity, must forego world building and instead invest meaning in every single word. With a focus on the representation of what is probably the most iconic Korean food, kimchi, I examine how ethnic food is celebrated, and simultaneously resisted, as (gendered) cultural heritage. I show how food is used to highlight cultural anxieties and desires, mark processes of inclusion and exclusion, and express a wavering sense of connectedness between Korea, the imagined country of the poets’ descent, and Japan, the country of their own birth.

Kristina Iwata-Weickgenannt received her PhD from Trier University, Germany, with a thesis on the contemporary writer Yū Miri. She was a senior research fellow at the DIJ from 2008 to 2013 and has been teaching modern Japanese literature at Nagoya University since. She is currently on research leave and a fellow at Trier University’s DFG Research Center for Advanced Studies FOR 2603 on “Poetry in Transition”.