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Beyond Ainu Studies

Beyond Ainu Studies: Changing Academic and Public Perspectives

Mark J. Hudson
ann-elise lewallen
Mark K. Watson
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Beyond Ainu Studies
    Book Description:

    In 2008, 140 years after it had annexed Ainu lands, the Japanese government shocked observers by finally recognizing Ainu as an Indigenous people. In this moment of unparalleled political change, it was Uzawa Kanako, a young Ainu activist, who signalled the necessity of movingbeyondthe historical legacy of "Ainu studies." Mired in a colonial mindset of abject academic practices, Ainu Studies was an umbrella term for an approach that claimed scientific authority vis-à-vis Ainu, who became its research objects. As a result of this legacy, a latent sense of suspicion still hangs over the purposes and intentions of non-Ainu researchers.This major new volume seeks to re-address the role of academic scholarship in Ainu social, cultural, and political affairs. Placing Ainu firmly into current debates over Indigeneity,Beyond Ainu Studiesprovides a broad yet critical overview of the history and current status of Ainu research. With chapters from scholars as well as Ainu activists and artists, it addresses a range of topics including history, ethnography, linguistics, tourism, legal mobilization, hunter-gatherer studies, the Ainu diaspora, gender, and clothwork. In its ambition to reframe the question of Ainu research in light of political reforms that are transforming Ainu society today, this book will be of interest to scholars and students in Indigenous studies as well as in anthropology and Asian studies.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-3918-5
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
    Mark J. Hudson, ann-elise lewallen and Mark K. Watson
  4. Message from Ainu-Mosir (Poem)
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Yūki Kōji
  5. 1 Beyond Ainu Studies: An Introduction
    (pp. 1-22)
    Mark K. Watson, ann-elise lewallen and Mark J. Hudson

    On June 6, 2008, 139 years after officially colonizing Hokkaido and more than 500 years since the first Japanese settlements appeared in southern Ezo (as the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido was previously known), the Japanese Diet shocked both the Ainu movement and their supporters by hastily passing a resolution unanimously recognizing Ainu as “Indigenous to the northern part of the Japanese archipelago, and especially Hokkaido.”¹ This decision represented a distinct break from previous policy. For the greater part of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the suppression of historical memory underpinning Japan’s celebrated claims of monoethnicity made being Ainu (or...

  6. THEME ONE Representation / Objectification

    • 2 Ainu Ethnography: Historical Representations in the West
      (pp. 25-44)
      Hans Dieter Ölschleger

      In its long history, ethnography, the description of foreign cultures, has taken on different forms. First, there was the imaginative ethnography during the later Middle Ages seeing the outer fringes of the world “peopled” by creatures with dog heads, or three legs; then followed the descriptions of countless European discoverers who in their early colonial endeavors opened the world to Western eyes and the longing of the Western philosophers for the “noble savage.” Finally, there emerged ethnography as the foundation of a cultural anthropology that tried to base its reasoning—be that in the sense of the humanities or the...

    • 3 Tourists, Anthropologists, and Visions of Indigenous Society in Japan
      (pp. 45-66)
      Tessa Morris-Suzuki

      In 1994, scholar of globalization Jonathan Friedman published one of the few accounts of Ainu society to appear in a general English-language study of cultural representation. For Friedman, the Ainu are the archetypal representatives of one extreme strategy for preserving and transmitting culture in the modern world. In contrast with the Bakongo people of the Congo, who express their cultural identity though the hyperconsumption of Western material goods, and with indigenous Hawaiians, who resist the objectification of their culture by others, the Ainu (according to Friedman) express their identity above all through the commercial production of their culture for tourists....

  7. THEME TWO New Critical Responses

    • 4 Tokyo Ainu and the Urban Indigenous Experience
      (pp. 69-85)
      Mark K. Watson

      Aesthetic, moral, and political visions of the Ainu rarely, if ever, involve representations of life lived in the major metropolitan centers of Honshu. In spite of the fact that one major outcome of the Japanese government’s recognition of the Ainu as an Indigenous people in 2008 has been to draw national attention to the situation of Ainu outside of Hokkaido for the first time (see below), it is still firmly the case that for most researchers, Indigenous activists, and even government officials, the urban mainland is thought to represent a marginal frame of reference in terms of Ainu society both...

    • 5 Charanke
      (pp. 86-91)
      Uzawa Kanako

      Looking up at the northern lights in the dark sky of a Norwegian winter, I am reminded of my connection to Ainu culture, my initial motivation in life. I first came to Tromsø in northern Norway more than ten years ago with other Ainu as part of a cultural exchange and performance group. I had been impressed with what I learned of the situation of Saami and their position in society. I particularly appreciated their unity and political activism. It gave me some idea of how Ainu communities can develop and campaign for more political power, especially in terms of...

    • 6 As a Child of Ainu
      (pp. 92-98)
      Sunazawa Kayo

      This chapter introduces another Ainu woman out of place, so to speak. Writing in her own words in English, Sunazawa Kayo, who lives and works in Malaysia, adds another layer of complexity to the portraiture of contemporary Ainu sketched in this book. As a self-described “transnational Ainu,” Sunazawa’s observations on what it means to be Ainu in Japan today and her own sense of identity have been enriched by intercultural exchange and dialogue with Indigenous communities across the Asia-Pacific, as she describes below. This short reflection does not aspire to conventional scholarly analysis but instead seeks to raise questions about...

  8. THEME THREE Academic Disciplines and Understandings of Ainu

    • 7 Is Ainu History Japanese History?
      (pp. 101-116)
      David L. Howell

      Anyone who writes on the history of the Ainu necessarily grapples with big questions about the nature of membership in the Japanese national community. Indeed, for many authors these days, the whole point of writing Ainu history is to critique the modern Japanese nation-state and its foundational myths, particularly the idea of ethnic and cultural homogeneity. For such writers, the answer to the question posed in this essay’s title is an emphatic “yes”: Ainu history certainly is Japanese history, perhaps even more so than it is a discrete field of inquiry. Not all scholars share this view. Anglophone authors like...

    • 8 Ainu and Hunter-Gatherer Studies
      (pp. 117-135)
      Mark J. Hudson

      Any critical discussion of Ainu Studies needs to grapple with the question of hunter-gathering. Until the colonization of Hokkaido, Sakhalin, and the Kurils by Japan and Russia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Ainu were primarily a hunter-gatherer people. Today, scholars have a renewed respect for the resilience and sustainability of hunter-gathering lifestyles. As environmental historian J. R. McNeill (2010, 362) notes, “The most ecologically sustainable societies in human history have been those that did not practice agriculture.” Ainu Studies, however, has seen hunter-gathering almost entirely in negative terms as a primitive form of economy that justified replacement...

    • 9 Trade and the Paradigm Shift in Research on Ainu Hunting Practices
      (pp. 136-150)
      Deriha Kōji

      In this chapter, I describe the changes in research on Ainu hunting practices that have taken place during the last half century. Over this period, research objectives and perspectives have shifted from a focus on hunting technology and hunting as a strategy for procuring food toward theories of exchange. Within the limited pages of this essay, I will focus on these transformations in research on land-based hunting activities. Based on my review of the literature, I argue that future research should incorporate a historicist perspective, evaluating shifts in conditions of Ainu society and carefully periodize each era.

      In Japan, the...

  9. THEME FOUR The Discourse of Culturalism

    • 10 Our Ancestors’ Handprints: The Evolution of Ainu Women’s Clothing Culture
      (pp. 153-170)
      Tsuda Nobuko

      As noted in the introduction to this volume, subsistence practices such as foraging and fishing, combined with the lack of a text recognizable as writing, provided the rationale for archaeologists to assign Ainu culture to a lower evolutionary tier. Here Tsuda Nobuko proposes a system forreadingAinu clothing. [The extracts below in italic stem from a March 23, 2010, dialogue with Tsuda.] From her standpoint, Ainu clothing culture served as an index of economic and political prowess; a record of technical skills and available tools; and as a legacy of individual artists across the Kurils, Sakhalin, and Hokkaido.¹ In...

    • 11 The Gender of Cloth: Ainu Women and Cultural Revitalization
      (pp. 171-184)
      ann-elise lewallen

      In his essay “The Violence of the Letter,” Jacques Derrida (1976) responds to Claude Levi-Strauss’ account of the Nambikwara people of Brazil, in particular their spectacular imitation of writing whereby the chief drew a series of lines and then “read” from a paper, cataloguing the objects that Levi-Strauss was expected to gift the Nambikwara. “Writing itself,” Levi-Strauss wrote, “seemed to be associated in a permanent way only with societies which were based on the exploitation of man by man” (Levi-Strauss in Derrida, 1976), or with the exercise of violence. The chief was keenly aware of the social status associated with...

    • 12 From Collecting Words to Writing Grammars: A Brief History of Ainu Linguistics
      (pp. 185-199)
      Kirsten Refsing

      A few centuries ago, Ainu was spoken widely in the northwestern regions of the Pacific Rim with Hokkaido as the center. Toponymic research in the Tōhoku area has revealed Ainu etymologies for a large number of place names there (Yamada 1982–1983). From Russian explorers we have sporadic references to Ainu residents on the southern tip of the Kamchatka Peninsula (Majewicz 1981), and the Kuril archipelago had a small number of Ainu inhabitants until the end of the Second World War (Murasaki 1963). Late in the nineteenth century the Japanese had deported most of the Kuril Ainu to the southern...

    • 13 The Ainu, Law, and Legal Mobilization, 1984–2009
      (pp. 200-222)
      Georgina Stevens

      The relationship between Indigenous groups and their colonizers’ laws has traditionally been one whereby colonial powers impose their legal doctrines to classify, control, and subvert Indigenous peoples in their own lands. The Ainu situation is no exception. Under the legal order imposed by Japan, Ainu had their land stolen and traditional practices banned, and were redefined as “former aboriginals” who required paternalistic state supervision.

      Today, Ainu can no longer be reduced exclusively to the role of disempowered victim and unwitting “object” of legal policies unilaterally determined by the Wajin majority. Ainu are now involved in critiquing laws and policies that...

    (pp. 223-250)
    (pp. 251-252)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 253-259)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 260-261)