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Food Risks and Post-Minamata Literary Tradition in Japan

CJRC Lecture Series

A lecture by Professor Masami Yuki of Kanazawa University. In analyzing Ishimure Michiko's seminal work "Paradise in the Sea of Sorrow: Our Minamata Disease" as the primary focus, this talk will discuss how one's language, value, and the food he/she chooses to eat are inextricably interwoven.

In its descriptions of local fishing people in southern Japan, who continued to eat mercury-contaminated marine products they caught themselves, Ishimure Michiko's "Paradise in the Sea of Sorrow: Our Minamata Disease" (1969) illustrates a curious resistance to discourses of food risks and safety. Such a resistance are also recognized in works of more recent writers such as Kato Yukiko and Taguchi Randy, forming what Professor Yuki would like to call a "Post-Minamata" literary tradition."  What is an implication of literary representations of knowingly eating toxic food? Her talk will delineate foodscapes in Ishimure's "proto-Minamata" literature and discuss how one's language, value, and the food she/he chooses to eat are all tightly connected.

Masami Yuki is Professor at Kanazawa University, where she teaches environmental literature and English as a Foreign Language. She has been publishing books and articles on American and Japanese environmental literature with special focuses on topics such as literary soundscapes, urban nature, toxic discourse, and contemporary foodways. In her most recent book, "Tabi no houe" [The Hearth of Contemporary Japanese Women Writers: Ecocritical Approaches to Literary Foodscapes] (2012), she examines social, political, and aesthetic implications of foodscapes represented in works of Ishimire Michiko, Taguchi Randy, Morisaki Kazue, and Nashiki Kaho. Her new project is a comparative study of contemporary foodways in American and Japanese literature and beyond.

Please RSVP by email to Kana Yoshida