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ERIC Number: EJ1064973
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 18
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 21
ISSN: ISSN-1071-4413
Comfort Women in Human Rights Discourse: Fetishized Testimonies, Small Museums, and the Politics of Thin Description
Joo, Hee-Jung Serenity
Review of Education, Pedagogy & Cultural Studies, v37 n2-3 p166-183 2015
In the last two decades, the issue of comfort women--the women and girls who were forced into sex slavery for the Japanese army before and during WWII--has risen to global attention. Tens of thousands of comfort women (the average estimate is anywhere between 80,000 and 200,000) were confined at comfort stations managed by the Japanese Imperial Army throughout the Asian Pacific. The vast majority (an estimated 80% to 90%) of these women were from Korea, the closest Japanese colony at the time, though they were also from China, the Philippines, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, and throughout Southeast Asia. Memorials and dedications have cropped up everywhere outside of Asia, including, in the United States alone, Glendale, California; Fairfax, Virginia; Southfield, Michigan; and Union City, New Jersey. In Winnipeg, the recorded testimony of comfort woman survivor Lola Fidencia David (''Lola Fidencia David Breaks the Silence'' 2013) when she visited in October 2013 will be part of the oral history collection at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR). Starting with the accounts of this visit sponsored by the CMHR, this article recounts the recent history of how the issue of comfort women has risen to global prominence and come to be a persuasive emblem of human rights. The comfort women movement, originally rooted in a deep and specific anticolonial activism dedicated to demanding legal redress from Japan, has morphed into a global women's and human rights agenda based on testimony, sympathy, and remembrance. This article considers what has been lost and gained in this shift, as well as its consequences for an ever-expanding human rights industry. It is divided into three parts. First, the author recounts details of the CMHR event in October 2013 and provides an overview of comfort woman testimonies, including the narrative and political constraints within the presentation of this history. Second, she traces the 20-year-old grassroots activism movement within Korea regarding military sexual slavery, and how this became subsumed under a global women's and human rights discourse. Lastly, she concludes with a comparison of comfort women's art to a Park Gun-Oong (2013) cartoon to argue for how distance and anonymity may be more strategic and ethical ways of caring for difficult knowledge than commemoration and memorialization in what Erika Doss (2013) refers to as the current era of ''memorial mania.''
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Canada (Winnipeg); Japan; South Korea