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Nakagami Kenji's 'Writing Back to the Centre' through the Subaltern Narrative: Reading the Hidden Outcast Voice in 'Misaki' and Karekinada

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-17, 10:45 authored by Ishikawa, M
The aim of this thesis is to give a post-colonial reading of selected narratives by Nakagami Kenji (1946-1992). Nakagami was the first Akutagawa Prize winning novelist from Japan’s outcaste Burakumin group. Through the production of narrative about this subaltern community, Nakagami confronted the exclusionary systems of hegemonic Japanese thought and the structures created by these systems which deny the principle and lived experience of ‘difference’. Borrowing the post-colonial concept of ‘writing back’ to the hegemonic centre from the work of Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin’s The Empire Writes Back, this article will analyse Nakagami’s ‘Misaki’ (1976, The Cape), and its sequel, Karekinada (1977, The Sea of Withered Trees). The principal focus will be on Nakagami’s representation of the hidden voice of those on the margins of Japanese society. This approach will position the Burakumin as ‘subalterns’ to the mainstream Japanese society on the basis of Antonio Gramsci’s view of the group. The analysis of ‘Misaki’ and Karekinada will begin with an investigation of Kishû Kumano as a site on the margins of mainstream Japanese society. In analysing these two novels as subaltern narratives, close attention will be given to Nakagami’s use of intertextuality particularly with oral kishu ryûritan folklore.


Publication title

New Voices










School of Humanities


The Japan Foundation, Sydney

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Copyright 2011 The Japan Foundation, Sydney

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