n De Arte - Erecting the “comfort women” memorials : from Seoul to San Francisco

Volume 53 Number 2-3
  • ISSN : 0004-3389
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This article outlines the history of the “comfort woman” statue from its emergence in Seoul to its incarnations in the United States up to the present moment. Its aim is to explore the debates regarding its installations and to account for shifting discursive fields with its changing localities from South Korea to the United States. Particular attention is paid to the controversies concerning “comfort woman” statues erected in Glendale, California; Southfield, Michigan; Brookhaven, Georgia; and San Francisco, California. In all cases, the cities encountered enormous pressures from the Japanese government, ultra-right-wing politicians and citizen groups. Resistance on the part of the Japanese government suggests ongoing efforts to systematically deny the wartime atrocities performed on women by its imperial predecessor and to silence the victim-survivors. The installations of the ‘comfort woman’ statues in the United States offer an opportunity for Asian diasporic communities with entangled World War II histories to resist such silencing and weave their own interstitial narratives.

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