“Legibility, Legitimacy, Intimacy: Reading Ethnic Identity in Transnational Contexts” (3 - 5 p.m., Friday, April 22) considers the tensions that develop in the process of establishing racial and/or national identity within cultural displacement or destabilized social orders. Ranging from the early 20th century to contemporary times, the discussions in this panel demonstrate that questions of belonging, community, desirability, and/or visibility continue to be complicated by migrant or border-crossing identities. Using the musical term “transposition” as a creative tactic, Angie Chau illustrates the ways the figure of the modern Chinese artist in 1920s-40s Paris translated Chinese culture for a global viewership. Andre Haag performs an intertextual investigation of recorded paranoia about ethnic passing in the Japanese Empire and sheds light on the precarious position of Koreans as both “Japanese” imperial subjects and “treacherous” imposters disguising themselves as true “mainlanders.” Nick Ogonek analyzes Takahashi Mutsuo’s novella Legend of a Holy Place (1972) as a critique of New York City as a cosmopolitan “gay heaven” where race and white supremacy determine individuals’ levels of sexual liberation and worth. Emily Jungmin Yoon examines Kim Hyesoon’s self-described “diasporic” cultural existence of women poets in South Korea and Kim’s place in the Anglophone literary world, especially following the international success of her collection Autobiography of Death (2016).

Discussant: Paola Iovene (University of Chicago)

  • “Paris and the Art of Transposition” by Angie Chau (University of Victoria)
  • “Passing, Paranoia, and the Korean Problem in Narratives of the Japanese Colonial Empire” by Andre Haag (University of Hawai'i at Mānoa)
  • “Forty Days in the City of Sin: Liberation and Apocalypse in Takahashi Mutsuo’s Legend of a Holy Place by Nick Ogonek (University of Chicago)
  • “A Place Where Everything Shifts: Kim Hyesoon’s ‘Diasporic’ Poetry” by Emily Jungmin Yoon (University of Chicago)