Review Section The Ideology of Kokugo: Nationalizing Language in Modern Japan. By Lee Yeounsuk; translated by Mariko Hirano Hubbard. University of Hawai`i Press, Honolulu, 2010. xix, 262 pages. $58.00. Reviewed by Indra Levy Stanford University Following its publication in Japan in 1996, Lee Yeounsuk's Kokugo to iu shiso quickly became a must-read for anyone with an interest in the relation¯ ship between language, national identity, and imperialism in the context of modern East Asia, and its enduring relevance makes it an excellent choice for translation into English. A rigorous and richly documented study of the history of linguistic consciousness in modern Japan, Kokugo to iu shiso ¯ spotlights the relationship between language and politics in a way that radically undermines widespread assumptions of a natural connection between "Japanese" as a language, "Japanese" as a national identity, and "Japan" as a state. From the perspective of literary studies, these assumptions have been challenged in recent years by the emergent concept of Nihongo-bungaku (Japanese-language literature), which calls attention to writers of literature in Japanese for whom the language is neither a native tongue nor an ethnic inheritance. As a Korean national writing in Japanese, Lee contributed to this historic shift
The Journal of Japanese Studies – Society for Japanese Studies
Published: Jul 14, 2012
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