[Cross-posted from New Books in East Asian Studies] Taylor Atkins‘ recent book is both an important contribution to East Asian Studies and an absolute delight to read. Primitive Selves: Koreana in the Japanese Colonial Gaze, 1910-1945 (University of California Press, 2010) opens with a movie theater commercial in 2004 and closes with a metaphorical decapitation. In the intervening chapters Atkins develops a series of sophisticated and masterfully defended arguments about the ways that colonial Japan was transformed by its engagement with Korean society and culture. Integrating critical literature on empire and colonialism, Japanese and Korean cultural history, and epistemological studies of loss and of observation, Primitive Selves is a model of careful, elegant, and responsible historical work lightened by a wonderful sense of humor. It was my sincere pleasure both to read the book, and to talk with Atkins about it.
As Atkins mentions in the course of his book and our conversation, all of the proceeds of the book are donated to the Tahirih Justice Center, which can be found here.