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Rethinking Japanese Culture: Anxiety, Identity and Becoming-Other
May 16, 2019 - 12:15-13:15
Lecture with Professor Tadashi Yanai, University of Tokyo.
This talk begins by discussing two books of anthropology of Japan recently published in English: Exploring the Anxiety of Being Japanese: A New Look at Nihonjinron (by Takeo Funabiki, 2018) and Escaping Japan: Reflections on Estrangement and Exile in the Twenty-First Century (edited by Blai Guarné and Paul Hansen, 2018). These are thought-provoking books that permit us to grasp the concrete—and fragmentary—movements of life, underneath what we call “Japanese culture” perhaps too generically. Anxiety, identity, and becoming are three of the main concepts that appear in them. Anyway, this does not mean that discussing Japaneseness is finished. Simply we should do it more carefully. The latter part of the talk develops this line of thought, where one of the references is Takayuki Kumagai’s book Japanese is a cinematic language (2011). Eventually, thinking about Japaneseness will be presented as an inspiring way of considering identity and becoming in the contemporary world at large.