The Cold War regime of translation in Trinidad and Okinawa: Samuel Selvon’s A Brighter Sun and Sadao Shinjo’s tanka poems
While the processes of decolonization in the Pacific and the Atlantic regions have been separately analyzed, this paper finds connections between these processes by examining how British and Japanese colonial regimes were reinforced by the US empire and the military, respectively. Here, Naoki Sakai’s concept of translation as the process of creating cofigurative relations can be reframed as the Cold War regime of translation: namely, translating everything suspicious into communism and simultaneously anti-Americanism. This framework, all-encompassing and nebulous enough to arbitrarily create enemies within and without national borders, has served to strengthen the complicities among the empires such as Britain, Japan, and the US during and after the WWII. While the networks of surveillance in the colonial regions were instrumental in enhancing these complicities, the term “anti-Americanism” used by the occupiers at the height of the Cold War has undermined the voices from below and diminished the international nature of democratic movements. Samuel Selvon’s A Brighter Sun (1952) demonstrates how deeply the construction of the US military bases in Trinidad affected its community in the early 1940s. Sadao Shinjo, a tanka poet in Okinawa, highlights the liminality of ideological and racial codes in the US-occupied Okinawa. His works records the presence of the colored GIs in Okinawa in the late 1960s, who participated in the local demilitarization movement. The two instances above stretch the limit of collaborative governance, questioning racialized and gendered selves under duress amidst the Cold War regime of translation.
KEYWORDS: Cold War; Samuel Selvon; A Brighter Sun; Trinidad; Okinawa; Sadao Shinjo; translation; anti-communism; anti-Americanism; the US occupation
Notes on contributor
Yutaka Yoshida is a Junior Associate Professor at Tokyo University of Science. He completed his PhD at Hitotsubashi University in 2013. His interests include Caribbean and East Asian literature, especially focusing on the comparative critique of decolonization in the Pacific and in the Atlantic regions. Recently, he has published a Japanese translation of George Lamming’s In the Castle of My Skin (1953). His first monograph, Literary History of the Destitute: Empire and the Crowds in Modernity, will be published by Getsuyo-sha in 2020.