Japanese Internment and the Mutation of Labor
Chapter 3 offers a theory of economic irrationality rooted in romantic anticapitalism that contextualizes Japanese wartime relocation and internment in North America. The chapter probes how the destructively abstract content of Japaneseness, based on the perception that Japanese labor held a destructive control over the creation of relative surplus value, is resignified after West Coast expulsion and relocation. Focusing on Joy Kogawa’s novel Obasan and Rea Tajiri’s video-memoir History and Memory, the chapter examines how symbolic identification with Jewish persecution before the war shifts toward an identification with Native identities after relocation. This cross-racial identification with Native contexts evokes the neutralization of Japanese labor’s association with the production of unnatural value and reconstitution as an exploited but ideal surplus labor force.