Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

East Asian Languages & Civilizations

First Advisor

Ayako Kano


This dissertation investigates the relationships and discourse among “in-between” people under Japanese colonial rule. Featuring three case studies including literary travalers in Manchuria, colonial writers in Taiwan, and transnational performers in East Asia that each provide multiple evidentiary examples, this study is centered on three dimensions of colonial discourse that deliberately challenged normative identity, nationality, and coloniality: writing as empowerment of local authors, traveling as a project of identity and state building, and cultural performance as imperial propaganda. By examining specific instances in which colonial writers and performers such as Natsume Sōseki, Yosano Akiko, Satō Haruo, Nishikawa Mitsuru, and Ri Kōran in Taiwan and Manchukuo engaged in colonial discourse, this dissertation re-contextualizes and fully portrays the relationships between colonizer and colonized, empire and colonies and, most importantly, human beings and society.

Chapter One argues that Sōseki and Yosano’s travel writing not only reveals their ambition to shape the empire but also provides their opinions that reconstructed the borderlines of the Japanese empire. Chapter Two examines the views of colonial identity and binaries through Satō and Nishikawa’s journeys and literary works of Taiwan. Chapter Three analyzes voices and performances from the semi-colonized territory of Manchuria, mainly through the discussion of cinematic representations of Japanese colonialism within the region. This chapter shows that Ri’s cheerful cinematic image portrayed a different dimension of colonial conversation and created a multi-layer conversation between empire and the colonies, and temporarily pacified the tension and anxiety of the war-time period. The concluding chapter explores the question: What is the cultural legacy of the Japanese empire? By examining two Taiwanese colonial writers, Zhang Wenhuan and Long Yingzhong, and their literary works as well as their respective journeys to Tokyo for the first Greater East Asia Writers’ Conference, I claim that their actions amplified colonized voices that attempted to create a counter-discourse from the empire’s edges. To conclude, this dissertation demonstrates that one cannot fully understand colonial reality without acknowledging a multi-dimensional discourse between colonized, colonizer, and people in between.

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