Staff and Advisors
Research Proposal Abstract
Raúl Araki proposes to study the culture and identity of the Nikkei in Perú. During the past twenty years, there have been important works in the field of demography, statistics and history, represented by Toraji Irie and Amelia Morimoto, but there has not been as much development in the study of culture and identity. While the Nikkei today are culturally mixed with Peruvian urbanity, they perceive themselves and are perceived as a unique group. This perception has persisted despite the continuous process of interaction with the larger society and active participation in national politics, embodied in the presidency of Alberto Fujimori. Mr. Araki plans to focus on three issues in his study: (1) How Nikkei identity has been formed in the Peruvian historical process; (2) How the Nikkei community has been perceived by the surrounding communities in Perú and by the Japanese; and (3) How the Japanese community and culture have been transformed throughout the historical course of Perú.
"An Assessment to the Process of Nikkei Identity Formation in Peru"
In this essay, I explore a very complicated theme. I hope to identify some of the elements, variables and conditions that can be seen in the Nikkei identity formation process in Peru.
To study the theme of identity, in this case Nikkei identity, we are aware of only partial and temporary results because we are subjected to new experiences and changes of identities. Because of this complexity, it is necessary to have multi-disciplinary focus on this issue.
Within the apparent homogeneity of the group, there are great diversities. We must be careful, therefore, not to have insufficient description, which would result in imperfect analysis.
First, there is a duality between the common historical experience and experiences of individual lives, which will complement each other.
We share a cultural heritage but it is filled with regional nuances with different level of adaptation, mixture and assimilation.
In addition, Peruvian and Latin American identity has been included into our identity formation process and interrogations continue. Filled with contradictions, but at the same time vital and filled with promises.
In Peru, there are five Nikkei generations, covering wide range of ages.
The People of Japanese origin in Peru (Morimoto, 1987) shows socio-economic differentiation and this differentiation accentuates the difference between those who belong and these who dont.
At the same time, we are united with pride of our origin and of Japanese culture we inherited and our valuation of pre-Hispanic culture that differentiates us. There are, at the same time, different regional cultures in Peru, which also exist in us.
The consciousness of this pride gives us self-esteem, which partly explain our identity.
Also, it can be said that the educational level of this group of people is relatively high. People with the secondary and superior educational level amounts to 63.14% of the total [Nikkei] population. Approximately, only 0.39% of the total population with Japanese origin in Peru doesnt have formal education. (Morimoto, 1991).
Although it is still at en exploratory level, in this study, I hope to capture the perception that the members of the major society have about Nikkei and the stereotype that they create about Nikkei.
In this study, I define Nikkei identity as a symbolic construction through which people express sentiment of affinity. Marked by its origin and common past; with shared values customs and codes of conduct, it accepts and values the cultural mix and it is learning to live with racial mixture.
The formation of the Nikkei identity is a creative process of individuals and groups that involves conscious choices and unconscious dimensions (Marcus, 1992).
Choices whose expression is a synthesis of the multi-principal experiences of individual lives, of groups and of institutions to that which pertains to the world view which relates to external and internal time and space.
Equally, the identity which maintains past memory of childhood, adolescence and now; and expectations and perspectives of the future.(Peña Peña 1997) If the memory of the events and good times is part of identity, we would like to help preserve it. We try to identify the essential elements that bring us unity, how we can integrate the personal identity into collective identity, and tendencies in search of common project.
In this introductory essay, I deal with experiences of the Nikkei in Peru, through these experiences, we explore the process of Nikkei community formation and their identities.