Originally accepted for the AAS 2020, this revised panel brings together scholarship which critically examines race not only as a topic of research, but as a method and approach, in light of on-going discussions on race and Asian studies. Talking about race is not an obvious topic in Japanese studies; only in the 1990s did ethnic minorities become a major subject of research. Taking race seriously however also means engaging in critical self-reflection about the approach and assumptions our field build on. In this panel, we engage in a conversation about race as an approach which reveals structures and processes which inform not only the experiences of specific groups of people, but which needs to be taken into account in studying Japanese society and history as a whole. Yukiko Koshiro examines race in the context of US-Japan relations and the development of television in Japan, showing how exchanges in technology and a trans-Pacific television culture failed to overcome racial stereotypes and an East-West divide. Aya Ezawa examines race as a central aspect of the history and memory of the Japanese occupation within the Dutch Indo-European community, and its impact on the identity of Japanese-Indo-European children born of war and beyond. John Davis Jr.’s analysis of Zainichi director Kim Sungwoon’s buraku documentary presents the director’s approach, which draws on minority sensibilities beyond the buraku experience, as a method that allows for a deeper understanding of a common humanity embedded in minority subjectivities.
Paper Presenter: Yukiko Koshiro – Nihon University
Paper Presenter: Aya Ezawa – Leiden University
Paper Presenter: John H. Davis, Jr. – Denison University