Individual Medium Post #2
What each of the groups of people that we have discussed thus far share, is being treated with suspicion due to their societal treatment as somehow not fully belonging (here, I am talking about the Chinese in Honolulu, Koreans in Befu, and Okinawans on the battlefront). We have also seen how these people fought back at times, and at others, simply tried to carve out other socialities to survive and to live out their own ideas of abundance. We have not yet discussed place-making in terms of the creation of art, of music, of literature, etc. What place do you think that these things, which we might put together as “cultural productions,” has in analyses of the eruption of political struggle? Your observations do not have to be based on research, per se. Think about how art, music, literature, and other cultural productions have shifted your own understanding of belonging, of community, and of the kind of world you want to bring into being, in meaningful ways.
The “cultural production” during the period of political struggle by the people treated with suspicion, including the literature, art, and music, could be seen as the social enzyme to propel political movement as well as the byproduct of the newly gained social status. On the one hand, a flourishing cultural production could incite people’s awareness of the injustice and provide primary intention for action. On the other hand, upon successful political movement, more relevant cultural production can be observed because the mass crowd grew more conscious toward their pivotal interest. They will be more willing to fight and gain more social status. Here we will discuss pieces of artwork that can show my claim in the following paragraphs.
First, to bring consciousness of people’s social injustice during the political struggle, many artworks served as means to educate the common folks about their inhumane treatment or propagate new ideologies of social justice and labor rights. For example, during the 1920s, the Korean poet Han Yongun and his “The Silence of Love,” a collection of poems, asked why the Korean people should endure the Japanese occupation of Korea. His poems exhibit Korean nationalism. For example, “I, alert, dreaded a parting to come when we met. The separation came so suddenly; it broke my heart with renewed sorrow” . With the metaphor of departing lovers, he hinted about the separation of country and explained the separation of Korean people from Japanese Imperialism.
Another example was the founding of the Korean Artist Proletariat Federation (KAPF) in 1925. The organization aimed to spread the communism ideology to the people with their artwork, and it consisted of figures like Han Sorya. He later became quite significant in post-war North Korea . Apart from the Korean people, we could also cite Chinese artists and authors to see the cultural production’s effect as means to bring people new ideologies and self-consciousness of political status. For example, the famous Chinese author Lu Xun and his numerous articles and essays brought Chinese people fresh points of view to alert themselves about losing social status and being unaware of being harmed by the Imperial powers. His fiction “The True Story of Ah Q,” depicted a poor in reality but rich in “spirit” protagonist, warned the Chinese people that they should be aware of the harm that old society had been given to them, and knew of the Chinese revolution that aimed to help them get rid of their shackles. Overall, the artworks produced by the people treated with suspicion under others could be a means to propel their struggle to fight for the new political status.
The next point was the power of these cultural productions could be spread further upon the success of the political movement. They are the byproduct of what had been accomplished during the political struggle. They would be evidence to all people about the victory gained through hard-fought domestic and international battlefields. For example, the National Anthem of the People’s Republic of China was produced initially in 1935 to encourage Chinese people to unite and fight against the invaders. Upon the initial success of Chinese people freed themselves from the shackles of the Qing regime and old doctrines. The song was created as an inspiration to all Chinese people. Also, through the observation of post-war Okinawa, the island culture was once restored, and we were able to see the Okinawan’s music and art preserved till today. All in all, cultural production as the byproduct of the social struggle was also apparent, both during the phase of movement and after the foreign suppression.
Han Yong-un, “The Silence Of Love”, https://allpoetry.com/poem
Han Sorya, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Han_Sorya
Nie Er, “March of Volunteers”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/March_of_the_Volunteers