AdvisorSmith, Nathaniel M.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis thesis examines the concept of ethnicity as an analytical category through a multi-layered study of two ethnic minority groups in Japan: Japanese war orphans and Japanese Brazilians. Japanese war orphans are people of Japanese descent who were abandoned in Manchuria by their Japanese families as infants or children at the end of WWII. They often adopted by Chinese families, grew up in China, and then repatriated to Japan since 1970s. Japanese Brazilians are also people of Japanese parentage, who migrated to Brazil in the beginning of 20th century, thrived as positive minorities in Brazil, and then migrated back to Japan since the 1980s. These two minority groups have challenged the dominant ideology of homogeneity in contemporary Japanese society. By examining these people’s stories and circumstances, this thesis demonstrates the ambiguity and contingency of the concept of ethnicity. First of all, as a group category, it diminishes the diversity and uniqueness of individuals into collective ethnic terms such as “Japanese,” “Chinese,” and “Brazilians.” Secondly, this concept of ethnicity could not solve the conflicts between the internally and externally defined ethnic identities of both individuals and groups. And thirdly, it has resulted in a loss or confusion of ethnic self consciousness among Japanese war orphans and Japanese Brazilians population due to the disjuncture between their Japanese descent and foreign cultural identity.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
East Asian Studies