Futurity, Fascism and Decolonial Ecologies in Recent Stories by Yuko Tsushima and Yoko Tawada


This presentation examines two recent, post-nuclear disaster short fictions from Japan : Yuko Tsushima’s ″Celebrating Cesium 137’s Half-Life (Hangenki wo iwatte, 2016),″ and Yoko Tawada’s″The Emissary (Kentoushi, 2014) ″. Both texts describe an isolated, totalitarian Japanese society of the near future where technoscientific progress has stopped. ″Cs137’s Half-Life ″ envisions a Dr.Strangelove-like chronotope where a parody of Nazi Germany meets a mordant satire of both wartime and contemporary Japan. The biopolitical regime depicted in ″The Emissary″ has been normalized to the extent that noone considers the deformities and illnesses of young people, and the immortality of centenarian workers anomalous. Such depictions evoke global neoliberal capitalism’s increasing reliance on ontopower (Massumi) – the harnessing of emergent life and affective potentiality for capital accumulation and total control. The final section of the presentation argues that Tsushima’s and Tawada’s texts subvert, and decolonize the postapocalyptic horror of conventional nuclear dystopias through the decolonial techniques of humour and the fantastic, as well as through (post)nuclear survivance (Vizernor) (i.e. the ironic embracing of the longue durée of radioactive decay). While the protagonists in ″Cesium 137″ and ″The Emissary″ may appear as doomed victims of an oppressive fascist regime, they are also cast as visionary trickster storytellers. Embodying the infinite re-existence (Mignolo) of atomic deep time, these characters also mediate an emerging decolonial, queer ecology of human-nonhuman co-becomings that enables new ways of seeing, feeling, caring and living otherwise.

Author Information
Livia Monnet, University of Montreal, Canada

Paper Information
Conference: ECAH2018
Stream: Humanities - Literature/Literary Studies*

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon