Anthropology & WGSS
Aika is in the Combined Ph.D. Program in Anthropology and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Her academic interests concern colonial legacies under Japanese imperialism in East Asia, specifically the comfort women issue. Her research, with a transnational focus, reflects the broader themes of generational inheritance of memory, (post)colonial trauma, gender, sexuality, and affect. Through her work, she is keen on bringing special care and attention to how the spectacularized (post)colonial violence seeps into and unfolds in the everyday relations.
Her undergraduate studies at both Waseda University and the National University of Singapore are pivotal in shaping her interests in geopolitical ramifications of Japanese imperialism. Her experience of living within the political heart of China during her M.A. program at Peking University led her to the question: How have “comfort women” been evoked, remembered, narrated under the nationalist discourse propagated by the Chinese government since the 1990s? Later on, the question formed the basis of her thesis in the M.A. program in East Asian Studies at Yale University. Writing her thesis as a film audience, a researcher, an ethnographer, and a child of Japanese and Chinese lineage, Aika approaches Twenty Two (2017)—a documentary that portrays Chinese comfort women’s life in their twilight years in a seemingly uneventful and quiet way—as an ethnographic material. Attuning to affective dimensions of the comfort women memory, she brings into focus various ways of remembering comfort women and pieces together a mosaic of narratives, which subvert the nationalistic trope that more often centers on the affects of hatred, heroism, and public performance of suffering.