To honor the memory of the late Kazuko Takemura, a feminist famous for her activism as well as introducing theorists such as Judith Butler, Slavoj Zizek, Gayatri Chaktravorty Spivak and Trinh T. Minh-ha to Japan, WAN is posting a series of eulogies delivered by her fellow activists and scholars both from Japan and overseas.
The best way to pay tribute to Kazuko Takemura, to pay tribute to the range of her vision, for me, is to celebrate our work together. At Ochanomizu, in many e-mails, and not enough face-to-face encounters, there were always plans for future work. A future that can now no longer be shared. She honored me four months before her death, by considering me capable of taking on a task that she had herself initiated, editing an issue of the International Journal of Okinawan Studies. I attempted to perform it with a sense of responsibility toward her astuteness, and her integrity, both intellectual and moral and I offer a few words from the Foreword as my tribute.
The last time I spoke in Japan, at Waseda University, specifically on development, Kazuko Takemura was in the audience. I had begun with the idea that in the current context the nation-state is not the most important theater. Development must be thought of in terms of globalization, although it is still measured by the nation-state. Kazuko knew, of course, that our work together was based on this assumption!
I remember Kazuko bustling up to the podium, with her radiant smile, after I had finished. She never simply stated her approval and agreement, she radiated it. This was no different. On that visit, she honored me with an invitation to her home. There, among much laughter and good cheer, the serious discussion of the distinction between the postcolonial and the contemporary continued. She had liked my book Other Asias, where this argument is developed. She had arranged to have its five chapters translated by five different women. We were to have a conference, where the five translators would put questions to me, and out of our public conversations would emerge a theory of embodied translation as well as a theory of a continentality that could take the difference between the postcolonial and the contemporary on board. Who could have foretold that we would never see one another again? Kiyomi Kawano, her loving friend in work and life, assures me that the work will go on. But she and I both know that the difference will overwhelm us every step of the way. We will finish that task, as now I have finished this one. Farewell, dear friend. I will not see the like of you again. Gayatri
Note: This message was originally read at the Kazuko Takemura memorial ceremony held in Tokyo on March 11, 2012. The sender of this message has agreed to have it uploaded here honoring Kazuko’s memory.
Posted by Aya Kitamura