Public lecture video by Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies (ICAS). This lecture was held on July 4, 2017. The speaker was Jane H. Yamashiro, Author of Redefining Japaneseness.
Growing up in the United States, Japanese Americans learn to understand their Japanese heritage within US-based narratives of racism, cultural exclusion, and multiculturalism. What happens when they move to Japan, where the discourse of Japanese homogeneity and uniqueness shapes what it means to be “Japanese”? What difficulties related to phenotype and language do Japanese American migrants encounter in their daily interactions as they attempt to make themselves understandable in Japan? Redefining Japaneseness: Japanese Americans in the Ancestral Homeland (Rutgers University Press, 2017), chronicles how Japanese Americans’ understandings of Japaneseness – including their own – transform while living in Japan. Drawing from extensive fieldwork and interviews, Jane H. Yamashiro reveals the diverse processes and shifting strategies that Japanese American migrants in the Tokyo area utilize as they negotiate and challenge conventional social boundaries and meanings related to race, ethnicity, culture, and nationality. By reframing the relationship between Japanese Americans and Japan, Redefining Japaneseness critically interrogates common assumptions about diasporic identification and ancestral homeland migration.