Lisa Kabesh

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Donald C. Goellnicht




This thesis takes as its subject the uncanny intersection of the history of Japanese Canadian intemment and Canadian multiculturalism in Joy Kogawa's Obasan (1981) and Kerri Sakamoto's The Electrical Field (1998). Drawing on Benedict Anderson's analysis of the birth of nationalism (2006), and Michel de Certeau's analysis of the temporal structures that order national historiography (1988), this project examines the process by which the imagined multicultural community of the Canadian nation writes itself through a genealogical historiography-hrough a retrospective mapping of the antecedent origins of multiculturalism. The result of this historiographical process is the construction of a teleological history; consequently, the subversive treatments of race, racialization and systemic, state-sponsored discrimination of both Kogawa's and Sakamoto's historical fictions face repression and containment within the logic of multicultural progress. This thesis examines, then, the tendency within the current multicultural climate to write the history of intemment as a regrettable yet past moment in the progress of the nation, and tums to the novels of Kogawa and Sakamoto to investigate the uncannily disruptive and potentially productive method of resistance that their a-linear, synchronic narratives offer in response to the homely narration of the nation.

McMaster University Library

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