British Journal of Canadian Studies

Joy Kogawa's Obasan: Canadian multiculturalism and Japanese-Canadian internment

British Journal of Canadian Studies (2012), 25, (1), 57–76.

Abstract

This article examines Joy Kogawa's popular Canadian novel, Obasan (1981), in the context of the establishment of the Canadian Constitution (1982), the official Canadian Multiculturalism Act (1988) and the history of Japanese-Canadian internment during the Second World War. It argues against the notion that the narrator of the novel, Naomi Nakane, moves from silence to speech and overcomes the traumas of her past. Likewise, the article argues that Canada does not move from a racist past to an anti-racist present. The article suggests that the novel's continual re-membering and re-assembling of past events and the way in which metonymic associations work to disrupt the symbolic order in the novel exemplify a powerful impetus toward resistance.

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Author details

Davis, Laura