This course offers you a broad sample of cutting-edge contemporary social science explorations of Japan, featuring Friday guest lectures. You will meet many of the scholars whose work we will read, giving you the opportunity to ask questions about their research process.
A core theme running through the course is the question of what “Japanese identity” means. The nation is around 98% ethnically Japanese and popular narratives frame the country as “homogenous,” but at the same time, “multiculturalism” and “internationalization” are key words in public discourse and policy narratives. Further, many sorts of people constitute Japan, including Indigenous Ainu and the Ryukyuan people of Okinawa, people whose ethnic origins come from outside Japan or who are mixed-race, gender minorities, and people with disabilities. What might it be like to live in a nation framed as “homogenous,” when the human experience is inherently diverse?
We will consider core methodological and theoretical issues in anthropology more broadly, and the anthropology of Japan, specifically. Assignments will give you the opportunity to explore topics of your own interest.