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Intergenerational transmission of trauma and post-internment Japanese diasporic literature

Goudie, Teresa Makiko (2006) Intergenerational transmission of trauma and post-internment Japanese diasporic literature. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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The thesis examines the literary archive of the Japanese diaspora in North America and uncovers evidence of an intergenerational transmission of trauma after the internment of all peoples of Japanese descent in America during World War Two. Their experience of migration, discrimination and displacement was exacerbated by the internment, the single most influential episode in their history which had a profound effect on subsequent generations. It is argued the trauma of their experiences can be located in their writing and, drawing on the works of Freud and trauma theoreticians Cathy Caruth and Ruth Leys in particular, the thesis constructs a theoretical framework which may be applied to post-internment Japanese diasporic writing to reveal the traces of trauma in all generations, traces that are linked to what Freud referred to as a posterior moment that triggered an earlier trauma which the subject may not have experienced personally but which may be lodged in her / her psyche. An examination of the literature of the Japanese diaspora shows that trauma is carried in the language itself and impacted upon the collective psyche of the entire community.

The theoretical model is used to read the tanka poetry written by the immigrant generation, a range of texts by the first American-born generation (including an in-depth analysis of four texts spanning several decades) and the texts written by the third-generation, many of whom did not experience the internment themselves so their motivation and the influence of the internment differed greatly from earlier generations. The thesis concludes with an analysis of David Mura's identification of the link between identity, sexuality and the influence of the internment experience as transmitted by his parents. The future of the Japanese American community and their relationship with their past traumatic experience also makes its way into the conclusion.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Supervisor(s): Mishra, Vijay
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