Postcolonial positioning and Japanese imperial affect in interwar dada prose poems

Dean Brink*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Between the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) and the Mukden Incident (1931), Japan-s mounting colonial presence manifested itself in the activities of the South Manchuria Railway Company as well as in the Japanese forces- skirmishes for control of the region. The poet Kitagawa Fuyuhiko (1900-1990) would draw on his memories of Manchuria, where he lived until attending college in Kyoto, to situate hyperobjects and colonial minutiae in counterhegemonic anticolonial and antiwar prose poems. His subtractive poetic configurations - not Surrealist but certainly building on Dada precedents - isolate incongruous elements (evental traces) in Alain Badiou-s sense of being faithful to a critique of the ethics of a colonial apparatus. Having grown up within the colonial enterprise himself, and subject to high-minded Japanese media representations and instilled imperial affects, Kitagawa positions himself against the machinic drive for colonial profits and the abuse of labour and prostitutes. This article thus situates aesthetic strategies for displacing imperial affect as projected onto spaces of Japanese expansion so as to document radically anticolonial subject possibilities among Japanese nationals themselves. As postcolonial artefacts, these prose poems suggest the contradictions of European modernity writ in the Japanese rhetoric of cosmopolitan East Asian development and liberation as cultural production that aestheticises colonial extraction of labour and raw materials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)302-316
Number of pages15
JournalPostcolonial Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - 3 Jul 2018


  • Dada prose poetry
  • Imperial affect
  • Japanese empire
  • Kitagawa Fuyuhiko (1900-1990)
  • Modern Japanese poetry

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