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Cross cultural study


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Cross cultural study

  1. 1. Journal of Intercultural StudiesVol. 30, No. 2, May 2009, pp. 141Á155Critical Teaching about Asia:Orientalism, Postcolonial Perspectivesand Cross-cultural EducationYoshiko NozakiThis paper explores the ways to develop a curriculum and pedagogy to teach Asiancultures and histories to US students Á and by implication to students in the West Á fromcritical postcolonial perspectives. In particular, by examining studies of Japan as anexample, it identifies and discusses several key issues, including application of the conceptof Orientalism, (commonsensical) binary oppositions that lurk in cross-cultural studiesand understandings, and cultural essentialisms and nationalisms that emerge in(de-colonised and modernising) Asian nations. The paper argues that postcolonialperspectives can offer us a set of useful theoretical tools to counteract the hegemonic waysof teaching and studying about Asia.Keywords: cross-cultural education; curriculum theory; postcolonial theory; teachingabout AsiaIn the USA, teaching about Asia allows teachers and students to cross-culturally studyand learn about the cultures and histories of countries and societies other than theirown. The pedagogical avenues through which US students learn about Asia arediverse. Asia-related materials are incorporated into various classes including art,literature and social studies at elementary and middle school levels (Nozaki andInokuchi; Wojtan; Bernson; Stern), and Asian languages such as Japanese andChinese are sometimes taught in the middle schools (grades 6Á8) and high schools(grades 9Á12), where teachers often incorporate some lessons about Asian societies,Yoshiko Nozaki is an associate professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Her co-edited book,Struggles over Difference: Curriculum, Texts, and Pedagogy in the Asia-Pacific (SUNY Press), won the AmericanEducational Research Association Division B Curriculum Studies Outstanding Book Award. As a leading scholaron the Japanese history textbook controversy, she has also published War Memory, Nationalism, and Education inPostwar Japan, 1945Á2007: The Japanese History Textbook Controversy and Ienaga Saburo’s Court Challenges(Routledge). Correspondence to: Yoshiko Nozaki, Department of Educational Leadership & Policy, StateUniversity of New York at Buffalo, 468 Baldy Hall, Buffalo, NY 14260-1000, USA. Email: ynozaki@buffalo.eduISSN 0725-6868 print/ISSN 1469-9540 online/09/020141-15# 2009 Taylor & FrancisDOI: 10.1080/07256860902766941
  2. 2. 142 Y. Nozakicultures and histories (Gluck; Parisi). At the high school level, some schools actuallyoffer Asian Studies classes. In post-secondary education, students can pursue AsianStudies majors and minors, while taking Asian language classes and Asia-focusedclasses in arts/humanities and social sciences (Hein; Kubota). The knowledge thatstudents gain from these classes varies; however, several studies show that thestudents’ cross-cultural understandings often remain stereotypical and simplistic (e.g.Hein; Kubota), and that the dominant discourses that speak of Asia as ‘different thanus’ are prevalent in schools and texts (Nozaki and Inokuchi; Nozaki ‘‘U.S.Discourses’’; Kogure and Nozaki). In other words, teaching about Asia can function as a progressive intervention orplay a major role in maintaining people’s commonsensical understandings ofthemselves, others and their social relations. What Richard Shaull states abouteducation generally applies to education about Asia: There is no such thing as a neutral educational process. Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate the integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity to it, or it becomes ‘the practice of freedom’, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world. (15)It is, thus, imperative for critical educators interested in teaching about Asia Á or incross-cultural education in general for that matter Á to make constant, consciousefforts for such a transformation, or counter-hegemony. ‘Hegemony’, as used here, isa form of domination achieved not by direct use of force but through everyday social,cultural and ideological practices that are saturated by ‘common sense’. ‘Commonsense’ in this context refers to those particular ways of feeling and understanding oursocial relations, the world and ourselves that actually serve the interests of thedominant groups. As such, common sense is passed on and reconstituted in everydaypractices, and in this way, people of the subordinate groups consent to the ideas ofthe dominant groups. In short, hegemony is a form of rule that entails the activeformation of people’s consciousness, or identities, in particular ways. Hegemony isgenerally sustained by the political alliances of groups (e.g. power blocs), though suchalliances are not always stable and so constantly need to be recreated. The hegemonicsituation is one where our consent is actively sought to make sense of the worldthrough particular means that happen to fit in with the interests of the hegemonicalliance of classes or the power bloc. Powers that succeed in constructing such anidentity as ‘the’ identity of the designated group are then able to establish andmaintain its hegemony (Williams Marxism; Keywords; O’Sullivan et al.). Here, one must take a critical look at the issues of curriculum and knowledge asthey relate to teaching about Asia. Curriculum is a site of power struggles, and thus,the outcomes of these struggles are not pre-determined. However, one should alsoacknowledge that curriculum is often a means of hegemonic power, especially in theways it represents peoples, histories, cultures and so forth. Constructions of identity
  3. 3. Journal of Intercultural Studies 143are implicated in these representations (Hall ‘‘Question of Cultural Identity’’).Moreover, curriculum codifies a symbolic space and time Á ‘imaginary geographies’(Said Orientalism) Á in which all identities are located. Identities do not arisenaturally from the core of beings; rather, they are structured through symbolicrepresentations of ‘self’ and ‘the Other’. One knows who ‘he’/‘she’ is in relation to ‘theOther’, those whom he/she cannot be. In theory, then, the meanings of self are notfixed. Nevertheless, one often encounters a seemingly stable identity like ‘the Japanese’(or ‘the Chinese’, or any Asian national identity). It is critical to understand such anidentity as historical, as constantly reconstructed through everyday hegemonicpractices representing the Other. In this sense, one can argue that teaching about Asiain the USA is a necessary part of hegemony because it involves representation ofthe Other, or that Á which is not ‘American’. Hence, critical educators, must beconcerned with the ways in which a counter-hegemonic program for education aboutAsia might be developed. A cross-cultural perspective is one of the greatest assets that education about Asiacan bring to US schools and classrooms. At the same time, this perspective and theissues surrounding it Á conceptual, methodological and practical Á pose difficultquestions for teachers and students, especially when they try to understand non-Western experiences through knowledges and curriculum developed by Westernscholarship. In the following sections, I would like to explore several ways to developa counter-hegemonic, critical curriculum and pedagogy for teaching about Asia byaddressing some of the problematic relations between the West and non-West ineducation and scholarship, and I would argue that postcolonial perspectives offersome viable approaches. I would also like to closely examine a particular example Áresearch on Japanese culture, society and education. There are merits to using ‘Japan’as an example; the country appears to be one of the most popular Asian nationsstudied by Western scholarship and taught about in US schools.Said’s ‘Orient’ and Japanese Studies’ ‘Japan’One of the most significant volumes ever published in postcolonial studies is EdwardSaid’s Orientalism (1978), which, some critics (e.g. Dimitriadis) state, led to theemergence of the postcolonial field. According to Said, Orientalism is ‘‘a way ofcoming to terms with the Orient that is based on the Orient’s special place inEuropean Western experience’’ (Orientalism 1). Orientalism comprises a mode ofdiscourse, a body of knowledge, a political vision of reality Á with supportinginstitutions, vocabulary, scholarship, imagery and doctrines Á that expresses andrepresents the Orient. The Orient represented here is actually an integral part ofEuropean material civilisation, though Orientalism as a discourse represents the‘Orient’ and ‘Europe’ as if they were mutually exclusive entities. In short, Orientalismis ‘‘a Western style for domination, restructuring, and having authority over theOrient’’ (Orientalism 2).
  4. 4. 144 Y. Nozaki ‘Orientalism’ is at the core of the challenges that educators face in teaching aboutAsia from critical perspectives. The Orientalism that Said discusses is basically a styleof thought, a specific set of discourses that have taken place in Europe’s experienceswith peoples and cultures in the region that we now call the Middle East. It is, thus,important for critical educators concerned with curriculum and teaching about Asiain the USA to note both the particular and the universal aspects of Said’s ideas: whatare the implications and limitations of the notion of Orientalism in terms of teachingabout Asia in the USA, the regions and geo-politics which are outside, or beyond, thesocio-historically specific setting of Said’s examination? Stuart Hall, using Said’s Orientalism as an example (or research paradigm),identifies the discourse of ‘the West and the Rest’ and examines its formation and itsmain themes and strategies of representation (‘‘The West and the Rest’’ 296Á97).Although ‘the Rest’ generally stands for the non-Western world, Hall’s study focusesmainly on languages and images representing ‘the New World’ Á the regions‘discovered’, conquered, colonised and dominated by European power(s). Just as inSaid’s Orientalism, Hall finds that stereotyping, dualism and splitting are theubiquitous features, and therefore the underpinning strategy of the West and the Restdiscourse. Furthermore, he points out not only that the discourse of the West and theRest worked its way into ‘‘classic works of sociology such as those by Marx andWeber’’, but also that ‘‘its effects can still been seen [. . .] in the language, theoreticalmodels, and hidden assumptions’’ of modern sociology and the other social sciences(‘‘The West and the Rest’’ 318). In essence, Hall extends the scope of Said’s Orientalism to address Western powerover the non-Western regions in general (‘‘The West and the Rest’’). This is a movefrom a specific theory of Orientalism to a general (unified) theory of the West and theRest. As such, Hall’s work offers an encompassing framework for research, and hedoes so explicitly. I appreciate Hall’s being articulate here, even though by now anumber of scholars have referred to Orientalism in an effort to name the practicesbeyond Said’s boundary of Europe and the Middle East (see, for example, Lee). Apitfall of Hall’s general theory might be that it runs a risk of reifying the power of theWest in a more singular nature than it has actually been. In this sense, theparticularity of Said’s Orientalism matters, or has its tenability. A case in point mightbe Japan, one of the examples used by Hall to illustrate that the West is ‘‘as much anidea as a fact of geography’’. As he puts it: ‘‘These days, technologically speaking,Japan is ‘Western’, though on our mental map it is about as far ‘East’ as you can get’’(‘‘The West and the Rest’’ 276). Hall does not, however, discuss how one should treatJapan in relation to the West and the Rest discourse, and/or Orientalism Á to do sowould require a close examination of the particular relationships between Japan, theWest and the Rest, and could result in a rethinking of the general theory of the Westand the Rest. Richard Minear, a historian of Japan, responds to Said’s notion of Orientalism byexamining the writings of three influential scholars in the field of Japanese Studies ÁBasil Hall Chamberlain, George B. Sansom and Edwin O. Reischauer (‘‘Orientalism’’).
  5. 5. Journal of Intercultural Studies 145These scholars’ works were (and still are) studied as ‘classics’ by students learningabout Japan. While demonstrating the ways that the (Orientalist) binary opposition,or the discourse of the West and the East, speaks through these scholars’ works, healso notes ‘‘the striking differences in historical setting’’ between Said’s Orientalismand the tradition of Japanese Studies (Minear ‘‘Orientalism’’ 514). The mostimportant difference, in his view, is that the partnership between Orientalist studiesand imperial military power did not really take place. As he put it: ‘‘Will to power,perhaps; arrogance and condescension, certainly; but actual domination, no’’(‘‘Orientalism’’ 515). This point leads him (and us) to an interesting, criticalquestion: why is it that ‘‘[e]ven in the absence of overt Western domination, theattitudes manifested in the discourse on Japan seem to resemble closely those ofSaid’s Orientalists’’ (‘‘Orientalism’’ 515)? Minear suggests three possible ways to answer the question, but it is the thirdanswer that he seems inclined to employ the most, and it speaks to a generaldisposition of cross-cultural perception (and so teaching and learning): The pursuit of knowledge involves the attempt to appropriate the reality of a subject, and is therefore aggressive; the subject is reduced, almost by necessity, to the status of object. [ . . .] The attempt to study other cultures exacerbates precisely that element of aggression. (‘‘Orientalism’’ 516)Although one may wonder if ‘aggression’ is too strong a term to describe the activitiesemployed in studying and learning in schools and universities, the production ofknowledge Á whether taking place in a scholarly, disciplinary field, or in an ordinaryclassroom, from kindergarten through grade school Á involves an exercise of power, atleast in an epistemological sense (e.g. Foucault). Indeed, representing a particularsubject or topic by drawing a line between ‘us’ and ‘them’ (‘the West’ and ‘Japan’),creating and describing these categories, and/or classifying things into thesecategories is to produce knowledge. The implication here is that a style of thoughtresembling Orientalism may appear in classrooms that are teaching about Asia, or inany cross-cultural study or education for that matter. It is important, thus, toexamine the existing tradition(s) of teaching and learning about Asia and Japan to seethe kinds of discourses in circulation and the kinds of power(s) that are carried bythese discourses.The ‘Them’ and ‘Us’ Binary OppositionTeaching about Asia by scholars in the West in general, and in the USA in particular,often contains, implicitly or explicitly, a binary opposition Á that is, the West/the USA(‘us’) vs. the East (‘them’). This binary resembles the one that takes place in the Westand the Rest discourse (Hall), or Orientalism (Said), and I have argued elsewhere thatit is a critical part of the discourse of Othering (e.g. Nozaki and Inokuchi; Inokuchiand Nozaki ‘‘‘Different than Us’’’). It may be important, however, to examine how thebinary works in the particular construction of knowledge as a manifestation of power
  6. 6. 146 Y. Nozakirelations between a specific nation in the West and a specific nation in the imaginarygeography of Asia. In this regard, the field of Japanese Studies in the USA serves as anexample from which we can gain additional insight. Ruth Benedict, a prominent anthropologist, published her volume The Chry-santhemum and the Sword, one of the most influential books on Japan to date, in1946. According to Clifford Geertz, in her volume, Benedict pursued, by repeatingagain and again in plain language, the Us/Not-us motif in her explanation of thepatterns of Japanese culture, a culture lived by a people who are ‘‘the most alienenemy the United States [has] ever fought’’ (1). Geertz argues that, despite Benedict’srepeated questioning of ‘what’s wrong with this picture’ of Japanese culturethroughout her volume, she was also skeptical of American culture, and so inpractice, she ended up deconstructing, or denaturalising, the cultural values andbeliefs of US society. In Geertz’s view, Benedict’s dismantling of ‘‘Americanexceptionalism by confronting it with that [ . . .] of a spectacularized other [i.e.Japan]’’ was extraordinarily courageous, considering that her writing of the volumetook place during the war with Japan (122). So one may conclude that the use of thebinary might not have been intended to be derogatory of Japanese culture; rather,consciously or not, while studying on, and teaching about, non-Western cultures, shehad a progressive agenda. Other critics have accounted differently for the connection between Benedict’sdepiction of Japan and her agenda. For example, Minear argues that Benedict’sprogressive agenda, or her strong ideological commitment to ‘‘[American] demo-cratic heritage’’ and the ‘‘victory of democratic ways of life’’ (‘‘Cross-culturalPerception’’ 560), influenced the way she depicted Japan. Although Benedict mighthave been aware that the picture of America as the nation of freedom, opportunityand equality was more ideal than real (Minear ‘‘Cross-cultural Perception’’ 561),because of her commitment to democracy Á or American democracy Á sherepresented domestic American reality in a strongly positive light, and Japan in avery negative light. It is important to note that her literary device was the binaryopposition of Japan and the USA, which constructed ‘‘a single American culture, anAmerican national character’’ (‘‘Cross-cultural Perception’’ 560) and a starklycontrasting Japanese culture and character (pathological and deficient of democracy).Then she used her depiction of Japanese character traits to explain the cause of theJapanese war with the USA Á ‘‘an explanation [ . . .] which is even faintly objective’’(‘‘Cross-cultural Perception’’ 566). There are a number of additional problematic issues. Benedict’s volume was, inpart, written in service for the wartime nation (see also Minear ‘‘Wartime Studies’’)and could be read as a training manual on how to handle the Japanese. ThoughBenedict may not have been completely comfortable with the ways her work wasassimilated into the immediate politicalÁintellectual contexts of the US war with, andits occupation of, Japan, in which ‘understanding’ the enemy was urgent and critical,she apparently took advantage of the contexts Á or at least she wanted to use herdiscipline for societal purposes. In addition, a portion of it, more precisely a chapter
  7. 7. Journal of Intercultural Studies 147entitled ‘‘The Child Learns’’, which is in fact an ‘‘unfortunately memorable’’ chapter(Geertz 116), was for the most part based on the works of others, including Batesonand Mead, on Bali and Balinese characters. Above all, Benedict did not travel to Japanat all Á indeed, she ‘‘actually hardly went anywhere either’’ (Geertz 123Á28; see alsoMead). Despite all these controversies, The Chrysanthemum and the Sword enjoyed(and still enjoys) a wide Á and more or less favourably disposed Á readership,nationally and internationally, including by people of Japan. It is perhaps her clear-cut, relentless use of the binary opposition of Japan and the USA that has sustainedthe popularity. Many lessons can be learned from Benedict and her volume, including a lesson onthe challenges faced by critical educators when they attempt to examine their owncultural norms and assumptions from cross-cultural perspectives, or the lack ofcontrol that teachers have over the social and historical contexts and consequences oftheir teaching. However, Geertz’s examination of Benedict’s volume, by disentanglingmany threads of the literary devices that Benedict employs to construct herarguments (and indeed the entire volume), gives a salient example of the danger ofusing binary categories in a cross-cultural teaching. It is putting forward the binarycategories and establishing a clear-cut division of the world in the imaginarygeography that serves as a foundation upon which other discourses, includingOrientalist languages, images and vocabularies, can lurk and produce knowledge(s)(see also Nozaki and Inokuchi; Inokuchi and Nozaki ‘‘‘Different than Us’’’). Note that a general consequence of dividing the world into binary ‘them’ and ‘us’terms is the rise of essentialism. Whatever category is used to define people as agroup, that category inevitably stresses the similarities and disregards the differenceswithin the category, and so ultimately has negative effects upon the peoplecategorised (Nozaki ‘‘Essentializing’’). It is exclusive and polarising, and, moresignificantly, it defines and defends the ‘essence’ of the people and their culture(Japanese, or Chinese, or any Asian nationality, for that matter), rather thanpromoting a full understanding of their complex identities as socio-historicalconstructs (Said Culture and Imperialism). Although it has traditionally been feministscholars who have effectively utilised the concept of (cultural) essentialism in order toidentify the problem(s) of dominant research on women (e.g. Fuss; Scott), it can alsobe employed by others in an effort to examine the tendencies of teaching about Asia,or cross-cultural teaching and learning in general.Occidentalism and Non-Western National IdentityDoes inviting non-Western people into the classrooms to speak directly to students Áthereby bringing the ‘voices’ of the Other Á solve the problem of the West/non-Westbinary? Critical educators in the USA, wary of imposing only Western or Americanviews upon students, sometimes opt for having non-Westerners speak to their classes.However, the guests may also use the binary opposition, or firmly believe in it.Indeed, the binary opposition of the West and non-West, which constructs firm
  8. 8. 148 Y. Nozakiessentialist national identities of the non-Western nations, has also emerged inmovements and struggles for liberation from colonial and neo-colonial oppressions,or in the battles against the hegemony of the West, militarily, politically, culturally orotherwise. In the inter- and intra-national clashes of power during the colonial andpostcolonial periods, binary oppositions and Orientalist (and Occidentalist) knowl-edges and images have also been appropriated, circulated, consumed and reproducedby ‘native’ peoples of Asian regions. Such an essentialist national identity may be critically important, depending on themoment of its use. It may possess a ‘‘continuing creative power’’ in post- and neo-colonial struggles (Hall ‘‘Cultural Identity’’ 111), and as such, it can (and should) beused consciously in ‘‘strategic’’ ways (Spivak 11). However, one should perhaps notassume that the strategically created national identities that emerge throughliberation movements are always and/or forever liberating in their nature and effects(just as identities like ‘working class’ or ‘women’ may not always be libratory in theireffects when applied to diverse populations). It is, therefore, important for criticaleducators to understand the particular social and historical conditions of inter- andintra-national clashes of power in terms of the construction of nationalist, or nativist,identity formations. For example, Moeran argues that, in Japan, the writings of what is called‘nihonjinron’, or ‘the theory of the Japanese’, which sees Japanese culture as a coherententity distinct from other cultures, have arisen both in reaction to, and as borrowingsfrom, representations of the Japanese in Western scholarship. That is, the Westerntradition of knowledge production, which involves a style of thought aptly called‘Japanism’ (a term that Moeran coins after Said’s ‘Orientalism’), has beenappropriated by many Japanese Á both nationalists and internationalists Á themselves,and as a discourse it has produced a genre of quasi-academic literature called‘nihonjinron’ (Moeran). The nihonjinron discourse sees Japanese culture as unique,quite different from any other culture (but it is, for the most part, the WesternEuropean cultures that theorists have it positioned against), and argues either for its‘inferiority’ or ‘superiority’. Critics argue that nihonjinron, as a discourse, isessentialist and functions as a device by which certain Japanese elite forces maintainhegemony within Japanese society as well as on an international front (see Goodman;Miyoshi). However, it is perhaps not only elite groups that have supported thisessentialist discourse on Japan, but also popular forces. After all, Benedict’s volumewas a bestseller in Japan and, as a classical study, it is still read widely today in aneffort to understand Japanese culture and society. Japanism, the Western tradition of producing knowledge about Japan Á which hasemerged and gained currency under particular socio-historical and politicalconditions Á accompanies a series of particular vocabularies and a repertoire ofimages, so it is not exactly the same as Said’s Orientalism. In a similar vein,nihonjinron, or the Japanese appropriation of Western Japanism, may not simplyinvolve Occidentalism, or the essentialist, dehumanising views of the West, as it oftenasserts Japan’s superiority over other Asian nations; after all, Japan has been an
  9. 9. Journal of Intercultural Studies 149imperial power that has taken its own imperial and colonial practices into other Asiannations. The (re)production of Japanism, or nihonjinron, thus needs to be examinedthrough a complex array of locations and interactions, one that consists of at leastthree (interlocking) domains of knowledge production, where specific representa-tional struggles take place, namely, in Japan, in the West/USA, and in a field locatedbetween the two. That is, discourses on Japan and Japanism work in particular waysin Japan, thus warranting a critical examination and teaching. They also function inparticular ways in the USA, requiring yet another critical research and education.Furthermore, they define and sustain (and may possibly tactically manoeuvre)particular power relations between the two nations in contemporary forms ofglobalisation. Such understandings should highlight the political economy as well asthe related social and cultural dimensions. Some efforts have been made to address these issues. A study conducted by Mouerand Sugimoto and Dale focuses on the first domain, the one that is located withinJapanese society, and on the production of nihonjinron discourses, and Yoshino, inpart, investigates the consumption of these discourses within Japanese society. Studieson the second domain centre on the production and consumption of the images of‘Japan’ within the educational programs of other countries, particularly in the USA(Inokuchi ‘‘United States’’; Nozaki and Inokuchi; Inokuchi and Nozaki ‘‘‘Differentthan Us’’’), and the images of ‘Japanese education’ in the USA (Feinberg; Nozaki‘‘U.S. Discourses’’). Kogure, in part, also addresses this aspect in the third domain,where he explores the links between Japanese nationalism and American Japanistrepresentations. These studies have clearly shown that Japanism should be under-stood as not only affecting relations between Japan and the USA, but also, moreimportantly, as exerting hegemonic effects on people living in Japan as well as thoseliving in the USA. Educators attempting to resist Japanism need to recognise thecomplex interactions among these three domains, even when they find it difficult todirectly deal with all of them at once in their teaching and learning. Although it is important to understand (and work through) the particularities ofJapanism in the critical teaching of Japan, it is equally important to examine the waysthat Japanism relates to Orientalism. Indeed, since Asian Studies, including JapaneseStudies, is the successor of Orientalist Studies, it seems plausible to consider Japanismas a strand of Orientalism, which, as a discourse, carries an ever evolving andadjusting Western power bloc that sustains hegemonic knowledge(s) about Japan.Japanism conveys the same theme (and power) as Said’s Orientalism (though it canplay a different tune). In other words, Orientalist language continues as the mostbasic part of Western discourse to approach Japan (and Asia). This connection between Orientalist discourse and teaching about Asia may induceconscientious educators to withdraw from offering classes having anything to do withthe study of Asia. Or it may cause them simply to take a position of relativistmulticulturalism, one that celebrates differences, or one that takes a position ofreversed Orientalism, which simply valorises ‘Asia’ as superior to ‘the West’. None ofthese, however, is desirable. The problem concerning the ideology that is embedded
  10. 10. 150 Y. Nozakiwithin Orientalist discourse cannot be reduced to that of relations between Westernand non-Western nations. Orientalism is a central imperialist discourse (Said Cultureand Imperialism; Hall ‘‘The West and the Rest’’), one that is racist in so far as itexplicitly or implicitly claims white European supremacy over non-European peoplesand cultures. Orientalism is also sexist both in the way that it describes Asia in sexistlanguage (e.g. Asia as an object to be raped) and describes Oriental women as sexualobjects (Said Orientalism). Above all, what is at issue here is the construction of a singular, unified nationalidentity at both ends of the relationship Á the West, on the one hand, and theJapanese, the Chinese and so forth, on the other. As discussed above, inherent inmany studies of Japanese culture and history is essentialism. Construction of ahomogeneous ‘‘their’’ national identity is possible only through the erasure of theidentities of ‘‘internal others’’ in the nation in question (Hall ‘‘The West and the Rest’’280). The erasure of internal others usually takes place in and through hegemonicprocesses in the realm of representation; however, it may involve the direct use offorce in the real world.Critical, Counter-hegemonic ApproachesHow should critical educators teach about Asia (and, by implication, about non-Western countries and regions)? The key problem here seems to be the essentialistdivide, the line drawn between the West and Asia that is one of the most fundamentaloperations of hegemonic power. To counteract this essentialism, teachers need tostress the variations, multiplicities and contradictions within all Asian nations,peoples and cultures. One useful approach here is to represent the multiplicity ofidentities that exists within any Asian nation. Just like an individual’s identity, anational identity is multiple and contradictory. Critical education about Asia canapproach this multiplicity by looking at the social and historical variations of a givennation. For example, ‘Japan’, which is usually represented as a homogeneous entity, has apopulation that is heterogeneous in its origin as well as in its history and current state(Murphy-Shigematsu; Lie). Some scholars have suggested that Japan needs to berepresented in terms of ‘variations across space and time’ (Mouer and Sugimoto).The concept ‘variation across space’ urges us to recognise socially marginalisedgroups in Japanese society and to consider the power differentials in relations amongvarious groups, and in their positions within societal institutions. The concept‘variation across time’ presses us to attend to the historical changes that continuallyemerge in these relations. Seen in terms of ‘variation across space’, there is a need tostudy the relationship of each group to the dominant groups, the relationshipsamong the groups and how these relationships are constructed and maintainedsocially and institutionally. In terms of ‘variation across time’, there is a need to studythe historical changes that take place within these relationships, and to directattention to the nation’s sociological differences from historical perspectives.
  11. 11. Journal of Intercultural Studies 151 It follows that cross-cultural education in the USA concerning a given Asian nationshould address the issues of minorities and socially subordinate groups, includingwomen, the lower classes and homosexuals as ‘internal others’, and represent theirhistories as well as their present conditions. Historicised anthropology andanthropologised history are valuable methods (e.g. Darnton), and in fact, this shiftin the study of Japan has already been launched to some extent (e.g. Amino Nihon;Nihonron no shiza; Ohnuki-Tierney). In any case, critical teaching and learning aboutJapan should employ an interdisciplinary approach that incorporates many fields. Inthe case of the study of Japan, it includes Women’s Studies, Buraku Studies, Ainu/Indigenous Studies, studies of Korean residents and so on (Inokuchi and Nozaki‘Others’ in Japanese Society). Critical educators need to be careful here, however. If power works by way ofessentialism, representations of ‘internal others’ may easily fall into other forms ofessentialism, or at least have limitations, since these groups are not internallymonolithic, either (e.g. Inokuchi ‘‘Finger-printing’’). Critical educators shouldperhaps adopt a notion of ‘multiple oppression’, where there are multiple powersthat operate within a given nation, group or individual. Scholarship among women ´of colour, Third World women and lesbian women (e.g. Anzaldua; Mohanty, Russoand Torres) has developed this concept, and some educational researchers suggestdeveloping a non-essentialist representation (McCarthy and Crichlow). In thisapproach, the representation of ‘variation across space and time’ must not remain apatchwork of the minority groups categorised, and so essentialised. It must show amultiple, fluid structure of domination (Mohanty) Á a picture of multiple axes ofpower (race, gender, class, etc.) that continually intersect and (re)structure socialrelations, assigning people to particular identities and locating their differencesthrough particular socio-historical contexts. Terms such as ‘race’, ‘class’ and ‘gender’are analytic categories used to examine such relations, and, therefore, to discuss ‘race’is not simply to discuss a racial (or ethnic) minority. The dynamics of race andethnicity matter for the dominant group(s) of any nation. It is crucial to allowstudents to develop an analytic ability to read multiple and multilayered powerrelations. Another way to overcome essentialism is to make cross-cultural teaching andlearning stress the ‘impure’, hybrid aspects of any national and regional culture(Bhabha; Said Culture and Imperialism). In any region, hybridity of cultural forms hasdeveloped through millennia of migrations and conquests. The inter-penetration ofcultures characterises both the regions that have been colonised in history and theregions from whence colonialism springs. But the notion seems especially useful forunderstanding the experiences of peoples placed in the category of the Rest duringthe colonial and neo-colonial periods. In many colonised countries as well ascountries going through processes of Westernisation in the name of modernisation,many new hybrid ‘traditions’ have been invented (Hobsbawn and Ranger). Criticalteaching about Asia needs to focus on what Said calls ‘‘interactions, the actual andoften productive traffic [that has occurred] among states, societies, groups, identities’’
  12. 12. 152 Y. Nozaki(Culture and Imperialism 20). Through this focus Á though one should rememberthat cultural hybridisations are never reciprocal (Miyoshi) Á any essentialistconstruction between cultures and peoples can be fundamentally challenged andchanged. Finally, I would like to stress the dangers of making education about Asia acurriculum enclave. The approaches mentioned above need to apply to teaching andlearning beyond cross-cultural studies as well, especially studies on ‘our’ country,history and culture. The constructions of a homogeneous identity (such as‘American’) have involved erasures of the identities of internal Others. Any societyin its actuality consists of people of hybridity: those who diversely embody the tracesof particular cultures, traditions, languages and histories that have shaped them, butwho also need to come to terms with, and to make something new of, the culturesthat they inhabit (Hall ‘‘Culture, Community’’). The aspects of Other peoples andcultures that exist in a Western nation should be well represented, and then read vis- `a-vis those aspects of peoples and cultures of Asian nations. This could be called a‘contrapuntal’ perspective: a vision that sees the connections between peoples,cultures and societies, while understanding the relative autonomy of their complexsocio-historical experiences. As Said says: [W]e must be able to think through and interpret together experiences that are discrepant, each with its particular agenda and pace of development, its own internal formations, its internal coherence and system of external relationships, all of them co-existing and interacting with others. (Culture and Imperialism 32)Contrapuntal analysis enables teachers and students in cross-cultural studies to‘‘elucidate a complex and uneven topography’’ (Culture and Imperialism 318) withintheir regions and imaginary geographies. Critical cross-cultural studies of Asia must fight against Orientalist forms ofhegemony. At stake is the construction of identities that affect people in the West andin other Asian countries, and with this, the relations between and among them. I haveoutlined several approaches to counter-hegemonic curriculum and pedagogy incritical education about Asia, ones that teach about the ways a particular powerworks through relations between peoples, and between different elements ofidentities, by stressing the multiplicity and fluidity of such relations and identities.Additional concepts (e.g. ambivalence) developed under the rubric of postcolonialtheories may also allow teachers and students to learn in this direction (Kelly). Moreover, the approaches discussed here should apply to critical teaching about‘our’ society Á for example, what US schools teach under the name of ‘our’ cultureand history Á and education needs to bring ‘their’ and ‘our’ experiences intocontrapuntal connection. The approaches suggested here, if they were to be employedonly in a curriculum area that is territorialised and territorialising (which might bethe case in some areas of education about Asia), would have substantial limitations.What is called for is a critical examination and reconsideration of the whole field ofscholarship, curriculum and instruction that is currently in place.
  13. 13. Journal of Intercultural Studies 153 The crucial question concerns the kind of geography imagined in this reconfigura-tion. Any nation is, in fact, a multiple and contradictory ‘collectivity’, and its identityshould be situated within the geography of the multiple and contradictory identities,peoples, cultures and histories of the region. This map will help one see that ‘‘we aremixed in with one another in ways that most national systems of education have notdreamed of ’’ (Said Culture and Imperialism 331). Moreover, only this map will enableerased internal others in various nations to find each other’s location (so that they canstart a conversation to form a network of counter-hegemonic forces). Criticaleducation about Asia, or any area of teaching such as literacy, arts or science, mustoffer younger generations the chance to know and understand such a geography andthe integrative realities and possibilities it comprises.AcknowledgementsI thank Hiromitsu Inokuchi, Allan Luke, Richard Minear and Lew Zippin for theircomments on the earlier drafts and for their encouragement and support of my work.I am also grateful to the editors of Journal of Intercultural Studies for their kindassistance and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive suggestions.ReferencesAmino, Y. Nihon chusei no minshu-zo: Heimin to shokunin [Portraits of the People in Medieval Japan: The Common People and the Professionals]. Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1980.***. Nihonron no shiza: Retto no shakai to kokka [Perspectives for Theory of Japan: Societies and * States of the Archipelago]. Tokyo: Shogakukan, 1990. ´Anzaldua, G., ed. Making Face, Making Soul: Haciendo Caras. San Francisco: An Aunt Lute Foundation Book, 1990.Bateson, G., and M. Mead.. Balinese Character: A Photographic Analysis. New York: New York Academy of Sciences, 1942.Benedict, R. The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: Patterns of Japanese Culture. New York: Meridian, 1946.Bernson, M. ‘‘Beyond Momotaro: Using Fiction about Japan in the Elementary Classroom’’ Social Studies and the Young Learner 10.3 (1998): 24Á26.Bhabha, H. K. The Location of Culture. London: Routledge, 1994.Dale, P. The Myth of Japanese Uniqueness. London: Croom Helm, 1986.Darnton, R. The Great Cat Massacre. New York: Basic Books, 1984.Dimitriadis, G. ‘‘On the Production of Expert Knowledge: Revisiting Edward Said’s Work on the Intellectual’’ Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education 27.3 (2006): 369Á82.Feinberg, W. Japan and the Pursuit of a New American Identity: Work and Education in a Multicultural Age. New York: Routledge, 1993.Foucault, M. Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings, 1972Á1977. Ed. C. Gordon. Trans. C. Gordon, L. Marshall, J. Mepham, and K. Soper. New York: Pantheon Books, 1980.Fuss, D. Essentially Speaking: Feminism, Nature and Difference. New York: Routledge, 1989.Geertz, C. Works and Lives: The Anthropologist as Author. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1988.Gluck, 1989. Gluck, C. Japan in a World Cultures: Social Studies Curriculum a Guide for Teachers. [S.l.]: Distributed by ERIC Clearinghouse, 1989.Goodman, R. Japan’s ‘International Youth’: The Emergence of a New Class of Schoolchildren. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990.
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