THE POWER OF AFFECT: ADDRESSING THE “COMFORT WOMEN” ISSUE IN MANHWA AND (FEMALE) MANGA
Prof. Jacqueline BERNDT (Stockholm University)
I would like to present material and thoughts on “comfort women manga/manhwa” (as developed in my NAJAKS paper, 2016). “Japan’s national narrative on WWII” is too general a subject for me, focusing on differences within the nation, or society at large. With regards to addressing controversial historical issues, mainly two opposite options seem to be available: on the one hand, a pursuit of realistically rendered subject matter in non-industrial works (or ‘graphic novels’); on the other hand, a preference for sentimental and nostalgic popular fiction, such as the type that has facilitated the discourse of often feminizing self-victimization in postwar Japan. I would like to draw attention to a third approach. In recent years, a significant number of artists entwine formula derived from female manga genres (for example, signifiers of cuteness) with the atrocities of war in a way that positions the reader not as distanced, critical eyewitness but empathetic participant. Their affective strategy provides access to historical issues that many regular readers (and artists) are reluctant to expose themselves to. Academics/historians as well as European comics critics who lack familiarity with such gendered popular media tend to overlook the potential, often due to a privileged focus on representation (instead of performativity and distribution). But the pressing political issue of ‘fake and fiction,’ too, raises questions about the power of popular/populist affect.
References: JB, 2016_“‘Comfort Women’ Comics, Multi-faceted: Revisiting the 2014 Manhwa Exhibit in Angoulême from the Perspective of Manga Studies”, Orientaliska Studier 147.
OF OBLIVION AND HYPERMNENOSIS: RESEARCHING AND NARRATING AGENT ORANGE IN POST-DOI MOI VIETNAM
Anne NGUYEN, PhD Candidate, Université libre de Bruxelles (REPI/EAST)
50 years after the end of the Vietnam War, its remembrance remains an important part of Vietnamese politics. In this general context, the topic of Agent Orange sprayings is an unfolding scientific and political controversy. With generations of Vietnamese people born sick and/or with heavy handicaps after the armistice and the consistent denial of recognition by the United States for the damages caused on the ecosystem and people’s health, scientists call for more fundamental research on this question.
While the Vietnamese government is favorable and effusive about the plight of Agent Orange victims, researching and remembering chemical sprayings and their consequences become increasingly difficult for civilians. How come this communication-extensive subject is turning into a taboo in Vietnamese civil society (which is foremost supportive toward victims and their recognition)? Through the exploration of Agent Orange as a memorial and scientific concern among Vietnamese activists and scientists, one will delve into the meanings attributed to war time remembrance in post Doi Moi Vietnam.
Chair/Discussant: Dr. Chenchen ZHANG (ULB-REPI/EASt)
Online registration required before November15th ► here (Sandwich lunch provided to those who have signed up)
Université libre de Bruxelles – Solbosch Campus
IEE (Kant Room), 12-2 pm
39 Avenue Franklin Roosevelt, 1050 Bruxelles