Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Fellow in the Humanities
2013—2014 Forum on Violence
CAS, 2014; History of Art
"Comfort Women Wanted": Uncovering the Violent Past through Visual Language
During the Japanese occupation of Korea in the early 1900s, approximately 200,000 young Korean women were coerced into serving as sex slaves for the Japanese soldiers. Known as comfort women, much of their existence and stories was obscured until recently. With only 55 of these women still surviving, the need to raise awareness of their experience has never been greater. What role has art played in this effort, and how has it been used to create a discourse between older and newer generations, as a physical evidence of their emotional scars, and as a healing mechanism? In addition, what does early modern Japanese erotica known as shunga reveal about attitudes toward sex and women in Japanese culture?