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Spatialized Trauma and the Treatment of Its Injuries in Philip Kan Gotanda’s Family Plays

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2018, 31(2), pp.135-158
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama

Jung,Byung-Eon 1

1부산대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper examines the spatial representation of trauma and the treatment of its injuries in Philip Kan Gotanda’s family play--A Song for a Nisei Fisherman, The Wash, and Fish Head Soup--by focusing primarily on Japanese American response to the devastating impact of internment camps in the western interior of the United States during World War II. The reason for their traumatic shock in racialized spaces such as the camps, farmlands, pubs, and military units in the US during the Vietnam War is due to the marginality of racial in-betweenness, a scenario in which they are treated neither as Americans, nor as Japanese. This analysis utilizes Cathy Caruth’s concept of trauma to argue that the trauma experienced by Japanese Americans spatially appears in the uncontrolled possession of their “overwhelming experience” of the event. Even though such experiences of “anger and self-loathing” are internalized and even silenced, their trauma is repetitively spatialized in their daily life, geographically distanced from one another, as exemplified in the immersion of fishing for their own space, the absence of communication between family members, and a severing of social relations. This physical and psychological distance is derived from the traumatic shock of their racially excluded experience. One may conclude that Gotanda’s plays function to let the audience recognize and “do something about the world” by spatializing the racial trauma.

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This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.