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Open Access Thesis

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Master of Arts (M.A.)

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This thesis deals with how Ohba Minako, a Japanese woman author who was prolific in the late twentieth century, uses a Japanese female yōkai (or “supernatural monster”) called yamamba (often translated into “mountain witch”) in order to produce a non-hierarchical community in her short stories and novels. Yamamba are usually depicted as old women who lure lost male travelers in the mountains into their huts in order to eat them. Therefore, feminist scholars analyze this figure from a feminist perspective as a reflection of misogyny in the patriarchal society. Acknowledging the usefulness and validity of the feminist approach and expanding it into viewing vagabonds and immigrants’ marginal communities, I will focus on how Ohba emphasizes the yamamba’s amorphous self, which I will explain constantly changes and thus carries the potential to transcend the border between the self and the other. Ohba’s depictions of yamamba as a mind-reader and women who speak with a language that does not belong to any specific nations or races are, I will argue, all part of her efforts to highlight the vi social injustices of putting individuals into certain molds of identities and her declarations to oppose to them as a woman and as a foreigner who lived in immigrants’ communities.