Cold War Ruins

Transpacific Critique of American Justice and Japanese War Crimes

Cold War Ruins

Book Pages: 336 Illustrations: 3 illustrations Published: August 2016

Author: Lisa Yoneyama

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Asian American Studies, Asian Studies

In Cold War Ruins Lisa Yoneyama argues that the efforts intensifying since the 1990s to bring justice to the victims of Japanese military and colonial violence have generated what she calls a "transborder redress culture." A product of failed post-World War II transitional justice that left many colonial legacies intact, this culture both contests and reiterates the complex transwar and transpacific entanglements that have sustained the Cold War unredressability and illegibility of certain violences. By linking justice to the effects of American geopolitical hegemony, and by deploying a conjunctive cultural critique—of "comfort women" redress efforts, state-sponsored apologies and amnesties, Asian American involvement in redress cases, the ongoing effects of the U.S. occupation of Japan and Okinawa, Japanese atrocities in China, and battles over WWII memories—Yoneyama helps illuminate how redress culture across Asia and the Pacific has the potential to bring powerful new and challenging perspectives on American exceptionalism, militarized security, justice, sovereignty, forgiveness, and decolonization.


"Yoneyama critically analyses the normative discourses surrounding Japanese wartime criminality and exposes how the Cold War power relations between Japan and the US continue to influence the terms in which international redress culture is enacted. The book offers a highly critical dissection of the political sensitivities of the post-Cold War era in the Japanese context. . . ."
  — Teemu Laulainen, LSE Review of Books

"Readers interested in geopolitical spheres beyond Asia Pacific should find Yoneyama’s approach to transnational cultural critique useful in exposing institutionalized forgetting in a wide variety of situations.... Given the metastasizing violence throughout the post-9/11 world, we can only hope that the methodologies and commitment to unflinching critical analysis evident in Cold War Ruins will find a wide audience." — Geoffrey White, American Ethnologist

"Yoneyama’s work is particularly effective in tracing how ideas of victimhood, justice, and memories of the war were politicized by the governments who pursued Japan and then negotiated its return to the international community." — Dean Aszkielowicz, Journal of Japanese Studies

"At a time when no single narrative can now monopolize the 'truth,' a global memory culture is coalescing around a human rights discourse that also monopolizes its own 'truth' originating in the West. Yoneyama's work is a valuable reminder that a multilayered perspective is crucial to discerning the political exploitation of such a paradigm as well." — Akiko Hashimoto, Monumenta Nipponica

"Cold War Ruins is not just about Japan, or Asia, or the United States, but about the wider region, demonstrating that history, memory, and redress are complex issues that are not limited by national borders." — Griseldis Kirsch, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

“Tracking ruins across the longue durée of the twentieth century, this impressive study explores the historical forces that have delimited the possibilities for justice for survivors of colonial and military violence in Asia and the Pacific. . . . The methodological and analytical depth of Cold War Ruins provides an exemplary transnational approach to the study of historical justice, which should appeal broadly to researchers and graduate students.” — Wendy Kozol, Journal of American History

Cold War Ruins is an innovative and provocative work. It contextualizes and builds connections between a host of thorny issues often receiving separate treatment. . . . A book filled with new questions and fresh answers about facing the past.” — Dayna Barnes, Journal of American-East Asian Relations

"Lisa Yoneyama challenges us to view the histories of capitalism, militarism, and imperialism not only as parallel to each other, but as colluding across transnational boundaries (192). Thus, she asks us to reconsider what justice means and what it looks like––not only for the victims of violence but also for us." — Nicolyn Woodcock, Journal of Asian American Studies

"Cold War Ruins takes readers beyond polities, geographies, histories, spaces, and times: a book of rare interdisciplinarity and range. Yoneyama has completed a work of fierce advocacy, abstract reasoning, and historical merit. . . . Yoneyama’s most important contribution is connecting post-war Occupation policies to the myth of US exceptionalism . . . The reader is left painfully aware of justice’s ephemerality, yet inspired by human resilience." — James Burnham Sedgwick, Pacific Affairs

"Cold War Ruins makes a brilliant contribution to current debates over justice, historical violence, and the (im)possibility of redress. The breadth of Yoneyama’s critical project is bolstered by illuminating discussions of specific histories and sites." — Guy Beauregard, Canadian Literature

"In this monumental book, Lisa Yoneyama analyzes the predicaments and possibilities of redressing war violence in Asia and the Pacific Islands, considering military tribunals, truth commissions, laws, historical debates, and museums. No other scholar has examined with such rigor and clarity the Cold War politics of knowledge that divides aggrieved and aggressor, the redressable and unredressable, the forgiven and unforgiven. With the publication of this book, the fields of East Asian Studies, American Studies, and Asian American Studies will be forever changed." — Lisa Lowe, author of The Intimacies of Four Continents

"A breakthrough work, Cold War Ruins will be remembered as a monumental enterprise positioned in the interstices of a number of academic fields. For over two decades Lisa Yoneyama has been involved in legal, political, and academic activities that examine the status of wartime memories, the issues of redress, as well as the international investigation of violence against women and minorities during wars in East Asia. Her studies on the issues of the "comfort women," Japan’s historical revisionism, American justice forged by postwar American Imperial Nationalism, and the logic of differential integration in U.S. nationalism all culminate here, where she weaves a piercing historical narrative that truly illuminates the ongoing politics in the Pacific." — Naoki Sakai, author of Translation and Subjectivity: On Japan and Cultural Nationalism


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Lisa Yoneyama is Professor of East Asian Studies and Women & Gender Studies at the University of Toronto, the coeditor of Perilous Memories: The Asia-Pacific War(s), also published by Duke University Press, and the author of Hiroshima Traces: Time, Space, and the Dialectics of Memory.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Preface  vii

Introduction. Transpacific Cold War Formations and the Question of (Un)Redressability  1

Part I. Space of Occupation

1. Liminal Justice: Okinawa   43

2. Liberation under Siege: Japanese Women  81

Part II. Transnational Memory Borders

3. Sovereignty, Apology, Forgiveness: Revisionisms  111

4. Contagious Justice: Asian/America  147

5. Complicit Amnesia: For Transformative Knowledge  177

Epilogue  203

Acknowledgments  215

Notes  225

Bibliography  285

Index  307
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Winner, Best Book in Humanities and Cultural Studies (Literary Studies), presented by the AAAS

Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-6169-5 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-6150-3
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