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From Cuzco to California: José Watanabe and Naomi Quiñones in the Nikkei Diaspora

Faculty Advisor




Naomi Quinones, Peru, literary criticism, José Watanabe

Abstract (summary)

Naomi Quiñones does not necessarily identify as a Sansei Latina playwright and poet. From a variety of constructed identities, I have pasted these labels onto her: Sansei, Latina, playwright and poet. I might as easily and as accurately have chosen Hispanic, Andean, Peruvian, Colombian-born, Latin American, South American, Iberian-American, Japanese-American, American, Usonian, cross-cultural, borderlands, multi-lingual, Feminist, Californian performance artist. Any combination of these choices would alter my reading of and reporting on her work, thus creating from the outset a variety of stances from which I could legitimately locate her texts. By reducing Naomi Quiñones with the labels Sansei, Latina, playwright and poet, I plan to relate her verses and theatrical presentations to the work of one of her contemporaries, Nisei Latino screenwriter and poet José Watanabe Varas. The differences between Quiñones and Watanabe, which abound in spite of the similarities imposed by my choice of labels, demonstrate how each fits into a Peruvian literary tradition that extends backward at least as far as El Inca Garcilaso de la Vega and a tradition of political commentary that extends forward at least as far as tomorrow’s headlines concerning Alberto Fujimori and the current Peruvian elections.

Publication Information



Presented on March 30, 2006 at the National Association for Ethnic Studies 34th Annual Conference held at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco, California.

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