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Amorphous Identities, Disavowed History: Shimada Masahiko and National Subjectivity

Amorphous Identities, Disavowed History: Shimada Masahiko and National Subjectivity positions 9:3 Winter 2001 1980s texts. Shimada’s texts are deeply self-reflexive, intellectual exercises on contemporary theoretical issues. Hence postmodern signifiers (fragmentation, pastiche, polymorphous perversity, and so on) that appear in his texts are, rather than simply “natural” (nonreflexive) occurrences, strategic signifiers. That is, they function as citations of postmodernity that also bring very modern pressures (such as concern over the status of literature, subjectivity, and national identity) to bear on the postmodern condition. More specifically, I understand Shimada’s texts to parody the utopian celebration of postmodernity as liberating subjects from national boundedness while relentlessly critiquing how the retention of not only the emperor system (tenn¯ sei) but the Showa emperor himself into the postwar period functions o ¯ as the stabilizing counterbalance to the destabilization of the postmodern subject. That is, as the axis of Japanese identity the emperor embodies a mythic disavowal of history, history that would potentially anchor the subject against postmodern amnesia and pastiches of the past. For Shimada the emperor is a very specific signifier, or the nodal point through which modern Japanese identity and Japanism as a naturalized ideology are constructed. Repeatedly he asks, How can Japanese (individual) identity be cohesively constructed when http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png positions asia critique Duke University Press

Amorphous Identities, Disavowed History: Shimada Masahiko and National Subjectivity

positions asia critique , Volume 9 (3) – Dec 1, 2001

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2001 by Duke University Press
ISSN
1067-9847
eISSN
1527-8271
DOI
10.1215/10679847-9-3-585
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

positions 9:3 Winter 2001 1980s texts. Shimada’s texts are deeply self-reflexive, intellectual exercises on contemporary theoretical issues. Hence postmodern signifiers (fragmentation, pastiche, polymorphous perversity, and so on) that appear in his texts are, rather than simply “natural” (nonreflexive) occurrences, strategic signifiers. That is, they function as citations of postmodernity that also bring very modern pressures (such as concern over the status of literature, subjectivity, and national identity) to bear on the postmodern condition. More specifically, I understand Shimada’s texts to parody the utopian celebration of postmodernity as liberating subjects from national boundedness while relentlessly critiquing how the retention of not only the emperor system (tenn¯ sei) but the Showa emperor himself into the postwar period functions o ¯ as the stabilizing counterbalance to the destabilization of the postmodern subject. That is, as the axis of Japanese identity the emperor embodies a mythic disavowal of history, history that would potentially anchor the subject against postmodern amnesia and pastiches of the past. For Shimada the emperor is a very specific signifier, or the nodal point through which modern Japanese identity and Japanism as a naturalized ideology are constructed. Repeatedly he asks, How can Japanese (individual) identity be cohesively constructed when

Journal

positions asia critiqueDuke University Press

Published: Dec 1, 2001

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