Ainu as the Other
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The Ainu, an indigenous people of Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, have often been referred to both in Japan and in the West as being a “dying race”. This thesis seeks to deconstruct that myth and contextualize it within the framework of 19th century colonization of Hokkaido and subsequent nation building process by the newly formed Japanese Meiji state. In doing so, this thesis will address the relationship between the formation of Japanese national identity and the otherization and erasure of Ainu individuals from both political life and popular media. This thesis will first expose the ways in which the Japanese state has systematically mythologized the racial and political behavior of the Ainu. Subsequently, this thesis will expose current forms of Ainu cultural mobilization that defy these imperial narratives. In doing so, this thesis will examine contemporary Ainu decolonial thought and thus hopefully aid in that process of decolonization.
DepartmentAsian and Middle Eastern Studies
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Rights for Collection: Undergraduate Honors Theses and Student papers