This article uses the comic poetic genre senryu as a source through which to explore the dynamics of lived experience of working-class Japanese immigrants to Korea. Challenging the dominant paradigm by which we view colonial reality, as a neatly divided portrait of colonial society between the empowered colonizer and powerless colonized, this study complicates our understanding of Japanese settler culture by considering the poetic representations of the nonelite Japanese. As a humorous and often vulgar cultural medium widely embraced by the general public, senryu approaches and depicts colonial life in the mode of satire and parody. Particularly characteristic of this poetic genre employed by the Japanese settlement community is its heteroglossic nature that opens up the possibility of multiple subject positions and the language that readily implements rhetorical strategies and vocabularies specific to a hybrid colonial culture. It is the more contoured and ambivalent dynamics of colonial race relations that the senryu poetry brings forth, which, in turn, questions the existing narratives of Japanese colonialism.
Skip Nav Destination
Helen J. S. Lee; Writing Colonial Relations of Everyday Life in Senryu. positions 1 August 2008; 16 (3): 601–628. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10679847-2008-015
Download citation file: