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ABSTRACT. “We are our own foreigners, we are divided,” says Julia Kristeva in Strangers to Ourselves. Awareness of a certain estrangement (othering) from the dominant culture is repeatedly present in the articulation of Japanese American and Japanese Canadian subjectivity. This sense of otherness manifested at different levels – physical, social, historical and mental – leads to what David Palumbo-Liu calls a kind of “cultural authority of the Other.” The current paper therefore investigates the relationship between the notion of “otherness” as a component of “the political unconscious of the minority subject,” and the cultural-aesthetic authority of the Japanese North American literary voice. Structure-wise, the first part of the paper surveys the conceptual evolution of the problematic of otherness in four interconnected areas of thought (philosophy, psychoanalysis, feminism and identity politics), while the second and third sections take a look at the historical othering of Japanese Canadians and Japanese Americans, and the way in which their individual and collective experiences as “racial others” are expressed by means of literary discourse. pp. 122–139

Keywords: alterity; Japanese American; Japanese Canadian; othering; minority voice; racialized text

Alina Elena Anton
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Alexandru Ioan Cuza University, Romania

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