CJS Research Webinar: Transcultural Dynamics in Memory Literature of Japanese- and Lithuanian-speaking Prisoners of War and Political Prisoners in the Soviet Union

Thursday 24 November
13:00-14:00 GMT
Online via Zoom

About the Talk

The study of internment in the Soviet Union and its commemoration is fragmented by national and disciplinary boundaries that limit the types of questions asked and the types of answers that can be given. However, a look at the history of Soviet camps suggests that they were not only places of punishment and suffering but also contact zones with potential for otherwise impossible encounters. The vast testimonial literature about the internment in the Soviet Union offers glimpses into processes of transculturation in the harsh environment of the camps. The fragmented nature of the field, however, obscures the connections described in primary literature and the similarities in how the internment is remembered across linguistic divisions.

In this project, I look at reports and memoirs about Soviet internment camps by Japanese prisoners of war, Lithuanian political prisoners and deportees, and other former internees whose experiences have been translated into English to answer the question how transcultural dynamics are represented in this vast and multilingual body of literature. I aim to demonstrate that analyzing camp memoirs primarily in nationally bound contexts has overlooked self-representations of identity questioning, alienation among compatriots, and commonality of experience across nationalities. By taking an interdisciplinary approach that combines history, memory and literary studies this project will shed new light on the study of camp memory by shifting the focus from how memory pertains to national identity to how memory of entangled experiences can help us rethink nationally bound histories and identities.

About the Speaker

Gunde Dauksyte is a doctoral candidate at the HCTS Graduate Programme for Transcultural Studies researching transcultural dynamics in memory literature about the imprisonment in the Soviet Union. She received her BA in Japanese studies from Sheffield University with a thesis on Japanese women authors in English translation. She received her master’s degree after completing the Joint Degree Programme in Transcultural Studies in HCTS and the Graduate School of Letters at Kyoto University. Her MA thesis was about anarchism in Japan based on an analysis of Ōsawa Masamichi’s writings. In between her master’s and doctoral studies, she has worked at the Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania to Japan in Tokyo and at Vilnius University Press in Lithuania.

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