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How Burakumin became Japanese

  • 04 Oct 2013
  • 3:00 PM
  • Dulles Hall, Room 012, 230 W. 17th Ave, Columbus, Ohio 43210
How Burakumin became Japanese
Presented by Dr. John H. Davis, Jr., Denison University

Date: Friday, October 4, 3:00 p.m.
Place: Dulles Hall, Room 012 (230 W. 17th Ave on the OSU Campus)
Free and open to the public

 In the West burakumin are often defined straightforwardly as descendants of Japan’s outcaste communities. However, genealogical definitions of burakumin (and arguably minority communities in general) limit our understanding in two critical ways. First, somatic conceptualizations of minority groups conflate socially articulated taxonomies with intrinsic properties. Second, ‘biologized’ notions of burakumin fail to capture the profound transformations that have taken place within the buraku phenomenon over the years, transformations which have expanded, contracted, and radically reconfigured the category “burakumin” and consequently altered the criteria for who fits in it. Drawing on a range of ethnographic data and examples, this presentation problematizes the category of “burakumin” and documents how both the identification and identity of those labeled with this term have shifted within Japanese history along with the evolving institutions, ideologies, and practices used to define the Japanese population and construct the Japanese nation (and its “others”). It will also be argued that the notion of a homogeneous society and culture often pointed to as a general source of friction and marginalzation for minorities in Japan has actually played a significant role in combating prejudice against burakumin.

Link to event: http://easc.osu.edu/events/how-bunrakumin-became-japanese
Link to flyer: http://easc.osu.edu/files/images/davis.pdf

Co-sponsors are the Institute for Japanese Studies, Department of History, East Asian Studies Center, and a U.S. Department of Education Title VI Grant.
Contact: Janet Stucky Smith at stucky.7@osu.edu , 614-292-3345. http://easc.osu.edu

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