US Cultural Cold War Diplomacy and the Politics of Representation of Ethnicity: “America” in Agawa Hiroyuki’s Kariforuniya

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Kiim, Jiyoung
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Institute for Japanese Studies, Seoul National University
Seoul Journal of Japanese Studies, Vol. 5 No. 1, pp. 173-198
Agawa HiroyukiRockefeller Foundationcultural Cold WarUSISethnicity
As Cold War tensions escalated in the 1950s, the US began to promote cultural exchanges and propaganda activities as it ended its military occupation of Japan. In this context, the Rockefeller Foundation, a major player in reconstructing US-Japan cultural relations in the post-treaty period, invited Agawa Hiroyuki (1920- 2015) to the US in 1955 as a participant in its Creative Fellowship program. Agawa was a novelist known for his depictions of the war—particularly Hiroshima. Following study in the US, however, he shifted his thematic focus from atomic bombs to Japanese Americans. In this article, I examine the “America” represented in Agawa’s novel Kariforuniya (California, 1959), published upon his return to Japan. Even while incorporating negative historical legacies, such as the Japanese Immigration Law and the forced internment of Japanese during the war, Agawa depicts an America in which ethnic and racial conflict is gradually subsiding. Furthermore, he conveys this image through Japanese-American characters, eliciting identification from Japanese readers.
By comparing the similarities between the novel’s portrayals of second-generation Japanese Americans engaged in agriculture and the United States Information Service (USIS) film Japanese Farmers Visit California, I reveal how Kariforuniya conveys a narrative consistent with US cultural Cold War diplomacy: an America of modern affluence and increasing racial harmony. The novel thus served as a means of strengthening US-Japan relations, suggesting the powerful influence of US cultural Cold War diplomacy on postwar Japanese literature.
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Graduate School of International Studies (국제대학원)Institute for Japanese Studies(일본연구소)Seoul Journal of Japanese StudiesSeoul Journal of Japanese Studies vol.5 no.1(2019)
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