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Tuesday, July 4, 2017
Temple University Japan
www.redefiningjapaneseness.com
Today’s talk
I. My Background
II. How I Came To This Topic
III. Research Questions
IV. Contributions
V. Methodology
VI. Th...
My Background
sansei (third generation) and
yonsei (fourth generation)
Japanese American
Berkeley, CA
My Background
1995-98
CIR (Coordinator of International Relations
on JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching)
Program
2004-2009
l...
How I Came To This Topic
1. Noticed that Japanese Americans don’t fit
into mainstream “Japanese” and “foreigner”
categorie...
How I Came To This Topic
2. Noticed that “Asian American” has no
meaning in Japan.
?
Research Questions
• As people who are both “Japanese” and
“foreign,” how do Japanese Americans learn
to identify in Japan...
Contributions to Previous Research
Previous Work
• Japanese Americans
– In the US, WWII
incarceration,
Americanization
• J...
Contributions to Previous Research
Previous Work
• Asian Americans
– Transnational lens to
examine migration to
the US
– A...
Contributions to Previous Research
Previous Work
• Race, ethnicity, and
migration
– Migration causes shift in
positioning ...
Contributions to Previous Research
Previous Work
• Japanese society
– Assumes
Japanese/foreigner
categories
– Looks at for...
Methodology
• Ethnographic research in Tokyo area (2004-09)
• Conducted formal and informal interviews
– 50+ Japanese Amer...
Finding #1
• Japanese American experiences and strategies
for identifying in Japan illuminate and are
shaped by what I cal...
The Hierarchy of Foreignness in Japan
• Two intersecting axes that do
not meet
• “Japanese” on horizontal axis
(acknowledg...
Categorized as Japanese*
Masato (36-year-old from New York):
“In America, the way you look is like your
uniform…it’s the f...
Miscategorized as Asian immigrants
Henry (38-year-old from NJ):
“the first question most people ask is ‘Are you
Chinese? K...
Asserting American Identities
• Joe (44-year-old from California) says that
when riding trains, he reads books or
newspape...
Asserting American Identities
Russell (39-year-old from Hawai‘i):
“In Japan they think you’re lower if they think
you’re C...
Conclusion #1
• Through shifting positioning as Japanese,
Asian immigrant, and American, Japanese
Americans are able to se...
Finding #2
In contrast to Japanese Brazilians who
develop stronger national identities as
Brazilians in Japan, Japanese Am...
Previous research on nikkeijin in Japan
• In Japan, Japanese
Brazilians develop
stronger identities as
“Brazilians.”
* Nik...
“Japanese Americans” from the US
continent
• Image of “Americans” is
of people who look
“white.”
• When Americans look
“Ja...
Japanese Americans “from Hawai‘i”
• Image of people from
“Hawai‘i” includes
people who look
Japanese.
• No need to explain...
Conclusion #2
• The different ways that nikkeijin learn to
identify in Japan are shaped by Japanese
views of where they ar...
Finding #3
As Japanese Americans interact with
Japanese people, become more fluent in
Japanese, and more knowledgeable abo...
Idealizing Japan
• When Japanese Americans are new to Japan
and speak limited Japanese, they tend to
idealize someday fitt...
Idealizing Japan
Gary, (36 year-old sansei from Chicago):
“I feel very comfortable here in Japan and I know my wife
[who i...
Hitting a Point of Diminishing Returns
• Japanese Americans who develop fluency in
Japanese and are immersed in Japanese
s...
Hitting a Point of Diminishing Returns
Masato, (36-year-old shin-nisei from New York):
“I think I might have stopped my de...
Conclusion #3
• Idealizing fitting into Japan less and less
reflects Japanese Americans shifting from
comparing themselves...
Conclusion
• Living in Japan highlights ancestry, phenotype,
and place-based identity (i.e., U.S. or Hawai‘i), as
Japanese...
Implications for Japanese Studies
• Understanding the complexities of Japanese
American experiences in Japan requires
dees...
Other findings in the book
 Name writing (which Japanese alphabet) in Japanese
reflects identification in Japan.
 Japane...
www.redefiningjapaneseness.com
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Public Lecture Slides (7.4.2017) Book Talk: Jane Yamashiro: Redefining Japaneseness

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Redefining Japaneseness: Japanese Americans in the Ancestral Homeland

Author/Speaker: Jane H. Yamashiro

ICAS public lecture series videos are posted on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAA67B040B82B8AEF

Published in: Education
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Public Lecture Slides (7.4.2017) Book Talk: Jane Yamashiro: Redefining Japaneseness

  1. 1. Tuesday, July 4, 2017 Temple University Japan www.redefiningjapaneseness.com
  2. 2. Today’s talk I. My Background II. How I Came To This Topic III. Research Questions IV. Contributions V. Methodology VI. Three Findings VII.Conclusion VIII.Other Findings In The Book
  3. 3. My Background sansei (third generation) and yonsei (fourth generation) Japanese American Berkeley, CA
  4. 4. My Background 1995-98 CIR (Coordinator of International Relations on JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) Program 2004-2009 language study in Yokohama; PhD fieldwork, teaching in Tokyo while living in Chiba 1992-93 College exchange student in Tokyo Lived in Japan 3 times, total of 9 years
  5. 5. How I Came To This Topic 1. Noticed that Japanese Americans don’t fit into mainstream “Japanese” and “foreigner” categories in Japan. Japanese (nihonjin) foreigners (gaijin)
  6. 6. How I Came To This Topic 2. Noticed that “Asian American” has no meaning in Japan. ?
  7. 7. Research Questions • As people who are both “Japanese” and “foreign,” how do Japanese Americans learn to identify in Japan? • How do Japanese American experiences and strategies for identifying in Japan change over time? • How does living in Japan affect how Japanese Americans identify?
  8. 8. Contributions to Previous Research Previous Work • Japanese Americans – In the US, WWII incarceration, Americanization • Japanese Americans in Japan – On prewar nisei This Book • Japanese Americans – Beyond incarceration – In globalizing world, experiences outside of US, shaped by internal diversity of Japanese Americans – In contemporary Japan
  9. 9. Contributions to Previous Research Previous Work • Asian Americans – Transnational lens to examine migration to the US – Asian Americans as diaspora “returning” to ancestral homeland This Book • Asian Americans – Question “return” paradigm, reframe as “ancestral homeland migration” of members of “global ancestral group”
  10. 10. Contributions to Previous Research Previous Work • Race, ethnicity, and migration – Migration causes shift in positioning from racial majority to racial minority (e.g., immigrants from Korea becoming “Asian”) This Book • Race, ethnicity, and migration – Migration can cause shift in positioning from racial minority to racial majority, too
  11. 11. Contributions to Previous Research Previous Work • Japanese society – Assumes Japanese/foreigner categories – Looks at foreigners in Japan as low-skilled, non- white, non-western “foreign workers” OR at western migrants who are white This Book • Japanese society – Complicates understanding of Japaneseness and foreignness – Looks at high-skilled western foreigners from highly industrialized nation, but Japanese Americans not completely white/foreign
  12. 12. Methodology • Ethnographic research in Tokyo area (2004-09) • Conducted formal and informal interviews – 50+ Japanese Americans living in Japan (2004-09) – 30+ Japanese Americans living in US (most had previously lived in Japan) (2005-15) – 30+ others (Japanese, non-JA foreigners, JAs who had not lived in Japan) in Japan and US * For this study, “Japanese Americans”: people of Japanese ancestry born and raised in the United States
  13. 13. Finding #1 • Japanese American experiences and strategies for identifying in Japan illuminate and are shaped by what I call “the hierarchy of foreignness” in Japan.
  14. 14. The Hierarchy of Foreignness in Japan • Two intersecting axes that do not meet • “Japanese” on horizontal axis (acknowledging internal stratification, Nakane 1970 tate shakai) • “foreigners” on vertical axis, above and below Japanese • Based on meanings associated with phenotype, language, behavior, and citizenship • Contextually shifts Japaneseness foreignness foreignness
  15. 15. Categorized as Japanese* Masato (36-year-old from New York): “In America, the way you look is like your uniform…it’s the first thing people notice…In Japan you just fit in…I’m not wearing any uniform.” * focusing on Japanese Americans who phenotypically blend
  16. 16. Miscategorized as Asian immigrants Henry (38-year-old from NJ): “the first question most people ask is ‘Are you Chinese? Korean? Filipino? Never oh, are you Japanese American? Never that.’ ”
  17. 17. Asserting American Identities • Joe (44-year-old from California) says that when riding trains, he reads books or newspapers or does crossword puzzles in English to let people know that he speaks English. • Several Japanese Americans told me they use English in restaurants to receive better treatment.
  18. 18. Asserting American Identities Russell (39-year-old from Hawai‘i): “In Japan they think you’re lower if they think you’re Chinese…when you’re American, you’re above them.”
  19. 19. Conclusion #1 • Through shifting positioning as Japanese, Asian immigrant, and American, Japanese Americans are able to see firsthand differences in how people of different nationalities are treated in Japan.
  20. 20. Finding #2 In contrast to Japanese Brazilians who develop stronger national identities as Brazilians in Japan, Japanese Americans reconstruct “Japanese American” and “Hawai‘i” identities.
  21. 21. Previous research on nikkeijin in Japan • In Japan, Japanese Brazilians develop stronger identities as “Brazilians.” * Nikkeijin: descendents of Japanese emigrants
  22. 22. “Japanese Americans” from the US continent • Image of “Americans” is of people who look “white.” • When Americans look “Japanese,” must explain background. • Learn to identify as “Japanese American.”
  23. 23. Japanese Americans “from Hawai‘i” • Image of people from “Hawai‘i” includes people who look Japanese. • No need to explain background. • Learn to identify as “from Hawai‘i.”
  24. 24. Conclusion #2 • The different ways that nikkeijin learn to identify in Japan are shaped by Japanese views of where they are from.
  25. 25. Finding #3 As Japanese Americans interact with Japanese people, become more fluent in Japanese, and more knowledgeable about Japanese society, they idealize fitting into Japan less and less.
  26. 26. Idealizing Japan • When Japanese Americans are new to Japan and speak limited Japanese, they tend to idealize someday fitting into Japanese society.
  27. 27. Idealizing Japan Gary, (36 year-old sansei from Chicago): “I feel very comfortable here in Japan and I know my wife [who is Irish American] doesn’t and I think the reason why is because I look like everyone else in Japan and I think I think like most everyone else here but I don’t speak the language. So it’s that discomfort because I think like I’m in the United States but we’re living in Japan. That’s kind of like the opposite, in a sense, discomfort. It’s not like the whole not looking like everyone else discomfort or discrimination or racism that you get in the United States. But it’s the whole…it’s the language. I think if I spoke Japanese I’d feel comfortable living here all my life…”
  28. 28. Hitting a Point of Diminishing Returns • Japanese Americans who develop fluency in Japanese and are immersed in Japanese society can hit a point where they lose motivation to improve their Japanese.
  29. 29. Hitting a Point of Diminishing Returns Masato, (36-year-old shin-nisei from New York): “I think I might have stopped my development of my Japanese skill because…I don’t want to be seen completely as Japanese because I would be handicapped because I find that being completely Japanese from a business perspective, or even socially is a disadvantage for Japanese Americans because you don’t know exactly how to act in given situations or you can’t act at the same sophistication level you can in your native tongue.”
  30. 30. Conclusion #3 • Idealizing fitting into Japan less and less reflects Japanese Americans shifting from comparing themselves with white foreigners to comparing themselves with “Japanese.”
  31. 31. Conclusion • Living in Japan highlights ancestry, phenotype, and place-based identity (i.e., U.S. or Hawai‘i), as Japanese Americans compare and are compared to other groups of people in Japanese society. • Ironically, living in Japan leads Japanese Americans to feel less “Japanese” by Japan-based standards. • Through living in Japan, Japanese Americans redefine what it means to be “Japanese.”
  32. 32. Implications for Japanese Studies • Understanding the complexities of Japanese American experiences in Japan requires deessentializing Japaneseness and decentering Japan. • The dynamic strategies that Japanese Americans develop highlight intersecting structures of race, nation, and culture that all international migrants to Japan must negotiate.
  33. 33. Other findings in the book  Name writing (which Japanese alphabet) in Japanese reflects identification in Japan.  Japanese Americans of mixed heritage grapple with hāfu category in addition to “Japanese” and “foreigner.”  I developed the concepts of “global ancestral groups” and “ancestral homeland migration” to offer an alternative framework to “diasporic return” and challenge the idea that Japanese Americans are “returning” to Japan.
  34. 34. www.redefiningjapaneseness.com

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