After Langston Hughes was shadowed by Japanese police in the port city of Chongjin, Korea, on his trip from the Soviet Union to Japan and China in 1933, he drew a parallel between the racialization of Koreans under Japanese colonial rule and that of American Negroes under Jim Crow rule. This essay examines Hughes's writings on Korea in conjunction with Korean translations of Hughes. Hughes employs the poetics of what I call “overlapping dispossessions” to analogize Korean colonial subjugation with African American racial oppression. In what I call a form of “cross-racial ventriloquism,” Korean translators subtly insert subversive slogans into Hughes's radical poem “Our Land” in order to encourage anticolonial sentiment against Japanese censorship. By focusing on both Hughes's disaggregate representations of Asians and Korean circulations of black culture, this essay reconsiders the discourse of Afro-Orientalism that represents Asia as an undifferentiated, static entity and thus marginalizes Asian cultural production.
Research Article|June 01 2017
Jang Wook Huh; Beyond Afro-Orientalism: Langston Hughes, Koreans, and the Poetics of Overlapping Dispossessions. Comparative Literature 1 June 2017; 69 (2): 201–221. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00104124-3865403
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