Creating a Collective Memory of the Comfort Women in the USA
We offer a new perspective on the recent controversies surrounding the memorialization of comfort women in several American cities by shifting the focus from bilateral historical grievances and tensions between the national governments of Japan and South Korea, to the grassroots and transnational politics involved in the siting of these monuments. We find that the construction of a transnational Korean identity among the Korean diaspora in the USA, and their creation of a collective public memory of the comfort women are evidence of their growing political consciousness and engagement in American civic life, and it is notable that most of the leadership and membership of the main organizations involved are women. These women are part of the global feminist and human rights movements which advocate for the inclusion and recognition of the experiences of women during wartime and colonization. Therefore, the memorials are not only symbols of historic reconciliation and remembrance, but of the skillful and strategic organizing, activism, and leadership of Asian Americans. This article also shows how the movement is evolving through the development of educational and curricular initiatives in honor of the comfort women in the USA.
KeywordsComfort women Memorialization Transnationalism Asian Americans Women’s activism
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