Post-apocalyptic vision and survivance: Nuclear writings in Native America and Japan

Kyoko Matsunaga
Dept. of English, University of Nebraska, Lincoln
July, 2006


"Post Apocalyptic Vision and Survivance: Nuclear Writings in Native American and Japan" examines the way nuclear issues are addressed by American Indian and Japanese Atomic Bomb writers. At the core of my argument lies the fact that although American nuclear literature and criticism have developed during the Cold War, until recently the voices of actual witnesses to the devastating effects of nuclear weapons and their production have often been dismissed or unacknowledged. Among such witnesses are indigenous people in the Southwest whose lands have been exploited for uranium mining and milling, nuclear testing, and nuclear waste disposal. I particularly focus on Simon J. Ortiz (an Acoma Pueblo poet/short story writer/essayist), Leslie Marmon Silko (a Laguna Pueblo novelist), Marilou Awiakta (a writer of Cherokee heritage living in Appalachia), and Gerald Vizenor (an Anishinabe writer from Northern Minnesota) who address nuclear colonization, cross-cultural nuclear destruction, alternative thinking about the atom, or the ideology of "nuclear peace" in their fiction, poetry, and prose. I argue that these writers subvert and deconstruct the predominant "apocalyptic" nuclear discourse through their tribal, global, and ecological perspectives. Like its counterpart in America, Atomic Bomb literature in Japan has developed a complex and rich discourse. My dissertation, therefore, overviews Japanese Atomic Bomb literature as well, particularly discussing the colonial and global significance of works such as Masuji Ibuse's Black Rain , Makoto Oda's Hiroshima , and Kyoko Hayashi's The Site of Rituals .