This talk explores the phenomenon of post-disaster rumors targeting ethnic minorities after both the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake and the 3/11 triple disaster by looking at two works of fiction that take up the theme of difference, disaster, and rumor. The first is Tokuda Shūsei’s short work “Fire-gun” that depicts a police station in the chaotic aftermath of the disaster. The second is Kawakami Hiromi’s post-3/11 reworking of her short story “Bear Gods,” which depicts the narrator’s stroll with a bear through a radioactive landscape. Together, they illustrate the potential of literature to help bridge ethnic difference as we reflect on disaster in the hopes of avoiding future violence.
Alex Bates is a specialist in modern Japanese literature and film. In addition to survey courses in these areas, he has taught courses in Japanese youth culture, war in fiction and film, ecocriticism, East Asian film, and cinematic adaptations of Japanese literature. Professor Bates' book on representations of the 1923 earthquake that destroyed Tokyo was published in 2015 from the University of Michigan, Center for Japanese Studies Press.
- Pomona College
- Oldenborg Center
- 350 N. College Way