Archive for the 'Society' Category

Japan in Diaspora / Diaspora in Japan (2)

Continued from my earlier post , here are some more impressions from Düsseldorf University’s recent “Japan in Diaspora” symposium.

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Japan in Diaspora / Diaspora in Japan (1)

Though occupied with preparing a talk on studying in Japan and cramming for my exams, I managed to attend at least part of the symposium on Japanese Diaspora Studies at Düsseldorf’s Heinrich-Heine-Universität that I wrote about earlier. This was, to the best of my knowledge, the first conference on this topic in German Japanese Studies. It was quite lively, with contributions from German, Japanese-American, Chinese and Japanese scholars and discussions routinely held in three languages, as befit the subject. In this first post, I will summarize the opening speeches by Shingo Shimada and Harumi Befu. I will try to provide summaries to some of the other contributions later, notably Kyungsik Suh’s well-received account of his zainichi identity and language politics, and Ludger Pries’s more theory-focused paper on the concept of trans-national space.

Continue reading ‘Japan in Diaspora / Diaspora in Japan (1)’

Japanese Diaspora Studies

Two quick items of interest for anybody who cares about the phenomenon of overseas Japanese diaspora culture(s).

1. An upcoming symposium at Düsseldorf’s Heinrich-Heine-Universität.

“Diaspora” is a concept which is paid more and more attention to within the current discussion of cultural and sociological studies. By global migration, transnational economic cooperation and cultural self-assurance the awareness of cultural differences has become more noticeable. Within this context the multicultural discourse broaches the issue of cultural diversity and the cohabitation in a modern society. Because of this the concept of “Diaspora” becomes more important. The pejorative connotation of former times is eclipsed by new positive aspects of the idea. In the new discussion, Diaspora means a position between two or more different cultures and is revealed as the new paradigmatic life situations in times of globalization.

The symposium, which will feature, among others, Harumi Befu, will be held on Oct 3rd, 2007. Check out their Website.

2. (via Frog in a Well), here is an interesting article by Nobuko Adachi in Japan Focus on the issue of Japanese-Peruvians in Peru, the United States, and Japan.


Japan is bigger than just Japan. Japan is metaphor and allegory, successful case study and cautionary example, tragedy and comedy, Eden and the Land of the Lotus Eaters. All these multiple narratives cannot possibly be correct at the same time, unless we remove Japan from its strict geographical denotation and explore a more abstracted Japan in conjunction with our normal surveillance of reality.

Thus speaks W. David “Marxy” Marx in what he calls the first manifesto to his new group blog Néojaponisme (his co-bloggers are Jean Snow and Ian Lynam, both Tokyo-based like Marxy). Marxy’s old blog was – and hopefully will continue to be – highly insightful, for the often critical and thoughtful posts as much as for the, ahem, passionate debates in the comments section on contemporary Japanese society and pop culture. Some of the friction generated in these debates has obviously spilled over into his new project, as the following passage shows:

As Japan blossoms in the international garden, a few cling to Néo-Orientalisme, a Romantic ideology updating the old lust towards submissive geisha and beautiful ukiyo-e with an obsession for Japan’s post-1980s cultural and technological accomplishments. Japan certainly provides the world with alternate social, economic, and political systems for serious consideration, but we should not make the mistake of believing that we have discovered a utopian parallel to our own society. If we really want to advocate certain policy triumphs in Japan for global betterment, we must fully understand the sometimes painful realities behind the working order.

I wonder who these “few” might be? Anyway, count me among the regular readers of this very promising new web journal.


(via Chrisfi)

Games in Heian Japan

Heaven Tree has some interesting thoughts on the function of games in Heian court circles – and how that relates to our modern world: The Heian games, or what then shall we do?


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