An Element of Recovery
An Exit Interview with Sam Nakahira, MFA ‘21, and James Sturm
You make comics about things that interest you: overlooked histories, dreams, mythology, Marxism, and more. Can you tell me about one or two of the comics that make up your senior thesis project and what attracted you specifically to those subjects?
My thesis, Redefinition, is an anthology of short nonfiction comics, each one exploring overlooked histories. I wanted to use this year to think more critically about and transform my understanding of how US imperialism and racial capitalism structure our world. I spent a good part of the year creating a comic about American consumption of K-pop. I became interested in studying American imperialism in Korea after I became a big K-pop and BTS fan about two years or so ago. While learning about the Korean War, I soon realized that most Americans consume K-pop without understanding the US role in the division of Korea and the creation of the South Korean state.The comic was a reflection on the unseeing Western gaze, how Americans often ignore the impact of US colonization on the world.
Another comic I worked on was about wakashu, the third gender of Edo Japan. I like to explore histories about how people organized their lives and sense of self in non-Western countries before Western colonization erased their traditions and way of life. I think there’s also an element of recovery to my work, a desire to bring marginalized histories to the center.
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