Narrative as a site of subject construction: The 'Comfort Women' debate

Kimura, Maki (2008). Narrative as a site of subject construction: The 'Comfort Women' debate. Feminist Theory, 9(1) pp. 5–24.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1464700108086360

Abstract

The ordeal of `Comfort Women' who were sexually enslaved by the Japanese Imperial Military during the Second World War became widely known in the 1990s through these women's accounts of their experience. Instead of considering their narratives as historical data which reflect the `true' historical past, this article locates them within a broader framework of thinking of narratives. Drawing on the understanding of narrative as a key to the self and the subject which has been developed in narrative research, as well as Judith Butler on interpellation and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak on subaltern agency, this article argues that the `Comfort Women's' testimonies should not be read one-dimensionally in the light of `truth' and `falsity', but should rather be considered as the site of their subject-formation. Their narratives are where agency concurrently emerges, and `Comfort Women' are thus not powerless victims but are active participants in their creation of their own narratives and their own selves.

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