Faculty Colloquium – Steven Day
“The Princess Died: Gendered, Ethnic, and National Identity and the Tragic Tale of Kawashima Yoshiko”
Presented by: Steven Day, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Languages and Literature, College of Liberal Arts
February 24, 2023 | 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
(Community time before and after presentation)
On Campus and via Zoom
On Campus Location: Goodwin 416
This presentation examines the colorful yet tragic life of Kawashima Yoshiko, also known as Aisin Gioro Xianyu in her native Manchu language and Jin Bihui in Mandarin. Born a princess into the Manchu imperial clan in 1907, Kawashima was a cousin to the last Chinese emperor, Puyi. At the age of eight, Kawashima was “adopted” by a Japanese family sympathetic to the restoration of the Manchus after the fall of the Qing Dynasty. My talk will focus on Kawashima’s often ambiguous identity through the categories of gender, ethnicity, and nationality. I will look at representations of her as “Joan of Arc of Manchukuo,” Mulan, and the “Eastern Mata Hari” in newspapers, magazines, pulp fiction, film, plays, and manga. In the end, it was precisely the question of national identity (Chinese or Japanese) that sealed her fate during a trial that resulted in her execution as a traitor in 1948.