Migrant and Minority Nostalgia in Karen Tei Yamashita’s Circle K Cycles
This essay explores the concept of nostalgia through an analysis of Circle K Cycles (2001), a creative (auto)ethnographic text in which the Japanese American writer Karen Tei Yamashita portrays Japanese Brazilians’ ethnic return migration to Japan in the 1980s and 1990s. In the face of social marginalisation and the hegemonic pressures of Japanese culture to conform to a standard of ‘pure Japaneseness’, Japanese Brazilians reinforce their attachment to Brazil, which they express in the form of nostalgia, or saudade. Yet Yamashita criticises any idea of cultural separateness and ‘purity’, both by experimenting with form and by describing phenomena of cultural hybridisation.
Keywords: Circle K Cycles • Karen Tei Yamashita • Japanese Brazilians • Ethnic return migration • Asian American literature • Nostalgia