GLOBAL NIKKEI EXPERIENCE
Staff and Advisors
"TRANSNATIONALISM, GLOBALISM & THE NIKKEI"
Professor Harumi Befu traces a historical process of what he termed human dispersal from Japan to the overseas since the sixteenth century. Divided into three stages, his research has shown a diversity of experiences and processes, which would require a larger perspective and treatment of the Nikkei beyond the Western Hemisphere. Two Brazilian scholars, Professors Masato Ninomiya and Edson Mori, as well as Dr. Yasuko Takezawa, deal with the transnational dekasegui of Latin American Nikkei, albeit from different standpoints.
Professor Ninomiya examines a complex problem of Nikkei adaptation to Japanese society and re-adaptation in Brazilian society, while Dr. Mori focuses on the economic aspect of dekasegui phenomenon that has given a great impact on both Japan and Brazil. Dr. Takezawa concentrates on the emergence of a culturally-hybrid community in Kobe after the 1995 earthquake, or a state of multicultural co-existence that began to embrace marginalized groups of peoples, including Nikkei residents, as full-fledged members in the city. Taking up the subjects of identity formation of Okinawan residents in Brazil and Hawai`i, Professor Koichi Mori and Mr. Makoto Arakaki stress how local and international influences had simultaneous effects on their ever-changing subjectivity and unique ethnic identities in the socio-historical context of Okinawan Diaspora after the colonization of the Islands by the modern Japanese nation-state in the nineteenth century.
Much of the ensuing dialogue revolved around a collaborative effort to sharpen the theoretical definitions of transnationalism and globalism in relation to Nikkei experiences and identity formation. Some of the insights drawn from our scholars studies, suggest that rapid globalization of world economy, transportation, and commercialized culture would not necessarily turn human experiences and perspective into uniformity or homogeneity, for strong localized forces--specific social relations, community contexts, or political powers--also take part in the molding of human subjectivity. Thus Nikkei identity shall not be seen as something static, exclusive, and monolithic, as it is always fluid, non-essential, and hybrid. In the context of transnationalism, what makes an individual a Nikkei is not contingent simply upon his/her primordial national origin; rather it is built upon certain symbolic cultures or invented historical commonality. In this process of identity formation, notions of race, blood, and most importantly nation-state should be viewed as anything but essential.