Redefining Japaneseness: Japanese Americans in the Ancestral Homeland

Tuesday, July 25, 2017, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Admission: Free and Open to the Public

Growing up in the U.S., Japanese Americans learn to understand their Japanese heritage within U.S.-based narratives of racism, cultural exclusion, and multiculturalism. What happens when they move to Japan, where different discourses and assumptions shape what it means to be “Japanese”? What difficulties do Japanese American migrants encounter in their daily interactions as they attempt to make themselves understandable in Japan?

“Redefining Japaneseness” chronicles how Japanese Americans’ understandings of Japaneseness — including their own — transform while living in their ancestral homeland. Drawing from extensive fieldwork and interviews, Dr. 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.

“Not only does Yamashiro give us engaging portraits of how Japanese Americans navigate the social and cultural terrain of contemporary Japan, but she also provides a fundamental rethinking of the analytic frameworks by which migrant identities have been contextualized and understood,” said Michael Omi, Associate Professor of Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies of UC Berkeley.

Dr. Yamashiro was born and raised in Berkeley, where she is currently based as an independent scholar. She obtained a BA in sociology and Japanese studies from UC San Diego and an MA and Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. For more than a decade, she has been conducting research on Japanese American experiences living in Japan, and she herself has lived in Japan off and on for about nine years. Her comparative and transnational sociological work on race and ethnicity, culture, globalization, migration, diaspora, and identity sits at the intersection of Asian American and Asian Studies.

Admission to the lecture is free and open to the public. To RSVP for this event, call the JCCCNC at (415) 567-5505 or e-mail programsevents@jcccnc.org