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Online Talk#12:“Modern Water and Cheap Nature in Japanese Literature: Re-reading Ishimure Michiko”

Saturday, 25 June 2022, 10-11AM JST

Speaker: Hannah Boast (Assistant Professor, Literature and Environment, University College Dublin)


Activist-writer Ishimure Michiko (1927-2018) is often described as 'the Japanese Rachel Carson'. Best-known for her campaigning around Minamata Disease, particularly her work Paradise in the Sea of Sorrow: Our Minamata Disease (1969, trans. by Livia Monnet), Ishimure also published widely on other aspects of Japan's industrial development and its impact on marginalised rural communities. Her novel Lake of Heaven (1997, trans. by Bruce Allen) focuses on a fictional village destroyed for the construction of a dam, addressing Japan's status as one of the most dammed countries in the world. This talk situates Ishimure's work in the context of recent conversations across literary studies, environmental history and cultural geography on world-literature (WReC), world-ecology (Moore), and state hydromodernism (Swyngedouw, Linton), showing the resonance of Ishimure's writing on Japan's post-war modernisation with broader contemporary debates on literature and water crisis.

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