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‘Plural Localization’ and ‘Potential Temporality’: ‘Active Passivity' and ‘Reject-but-Desire’ at The Japanese Colonial Exhibition (1913), The Chosŏn Exhibition (1929), and the Taiwan Exhibition (1935)

Tue, June 23, 4:05 to 6:00pm, North Building, Floor: 9th Floor, N901


This paper examines the relationship between colonialism and racism through the concept of ‘localized pluralities,’ a phenomenon that surfaced at the Japanese Colonial Exhibitions in Tokyo (1913), Seoul (1929), and Taipei (1935). Colonial subjects were faced with displays showcasing the products and particularities of the Japanese colonies. They not only encountered the Japanese colonizers, but they met other colonial subjects while being confronted with their own local “others” like aborigines and provincials on display as local curiosities. Three critical localizations occurred at the colonial exhibitions: the Japanese Empire localization of Taiwan and Chosŏn through colonization, the mutual localization between Taiwan and Chosŏn as colonies, and the localization of the racialized “others” in their own locales.

Through plural localization, Taiwanese and Koreans who participated in the exhibitions expressed ambivalence towards the exhibitions of “modern scientific civilization.” Its contradictory nature also reveals a “potential temporality of the plural.” I examine the simultaneous multiple temporalities and localizations through three examples: 1. The curiosity and abjection of the colonial subjects who saw racialized "otherness" and consequent association with different temporalities on display in the bodies of the local "others", 2. The present temporality of an uprising in Korean writer Yom Sangsop's "Frenzy (1930)", 3. The depiction of the past in Taiwanese writer Zhu Dien-ren's "The Temptation of a Letter in Autumn (1936)." By examining these examples through the idea of “plural localizations,” we can understand the ways that colonial others who had not been convinced by colonial power interacted with each other.