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Professor @ Toyo University


Yuka Iwase Hasegawa is a Professor at Toyo University (Japan). She has passed postgraduate courses at Ochanomizu University (Japan) and the University of London (QMW), specialising in literature (English, American, and Caribbean) and gender studies. She has conducted research on the works of African-Caribbean female writers like Erna Brodber, Elizabeth Nunez, Jamaica Kincaid, in addition to Pauline Melville, from the perspectives of gender and postcolonialism, and has published eleven academic books with other Japanese scholars. She has received a government grant to research Caribbean immigrant writers of the Windrush generation.

Geographical location : Japan

Research Area and Interest : Caribbean literature, Gender Studies

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Migration and mobility in Caribbean literature


The Criminals in Pauline Melville’s Shape-shifter

This presentation will focus on the representation of Caribbean immigrants, especially criminals, in Pauline Melville’s first short story collection, Shape-shifter (1990), to apprehend her anti-authoritarian political stance and her empathy for the socially vulnerable. It will also address the role played by the Caribbean trickster, Anansi, in her ambiguous and fragmented modernist writings. Just like Anansi, who can transform with ease, ‘disguising’ is a key term in the short story collection. Melville is herself an immigrant who was born in Guyana in 1948. It is easily understandable that her concern with the marginalised in perhaps driven by the oppression she and her family experienced in their lives. However, she is undoubtedly 28 unique for her frequent representation of criminals. The criminals she portrays are not merely ‘bad guys.’ They are sometimes mysterious figures who can disrupt existing values and upset prevailing notions of justice. This presentation will explore Melville’s representation of criminals through her creation of an exquisite balance between anarchism and a clever satire of the existing power system. It will also outline the implications of Melville, a professional actor, writing novels.