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Beyond Ainu Studies

Changing Academic and Public Perspectives

Mark J. Hudson, Ann-Elise Lewallen, and Mark K. Watson

Publication Year: 2014

In 2008, 140 years after it had annexed Ainu lands, the Japanese government shocked observers by finally recognizing Ainu as an Indigenous people. In this moment of unparalleled political change, it was Uzawa Kanako, a young Ainu activist, who signalled the necessity of moving beyond the historical legacy of “Ainu studies.” Mired in a colonial mindset of abject academic practices, Ainu Studies was an umbrella term for an approach that claimed scientific authority vis-à-vis Ainu, who became its research objects. As a result of this legacy, a latent sense of suspicion still hangs over the purposes and intentions of non-Ainu researchers.

This major new volume seeks to re-address the role of academic scholarship in Ainu social, cultural, and political affairs. Placing Ainu firmly into current debates over Indigeneity, Beyond Ainu Studies provides a broad yet critical overview of the history and current status of Ainu research. With chapters from scholars as well as Ainu activists and artists, it addresses a range of topics including history, ethnography, linguistics, tourism, legal mobilization, hunter-gatherer studies, the Ainu diaspora, gender, and clothwork. In its ambition to reframe the question of Ainu research in light of political reforms that are transforming Ainu society today, this book will be of interest to scholars and students in Indigenous studies as well as in anthropology and Asian studies.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

This book began with conversations between Mark Hudson and Tomek Bogdanowicz in Sapporo in 2002. Bogdanowicz was then working on a visual anthropology project with Ainu people in Hokkaido and he and Hudson discussed how images of Ainu—both academic and popular—had changed so dramatically over the years. Bogdanowicz’s project addressed the...

Message from Ainu-Mosir

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pp. xi-xii

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1. Beyond Ainu Studies: An Introduction

Mark K. Watson, ann-elise lewallen, and Mark J. Hudson

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pp. 1-22

On June 6, 2008, 139 years after officially colonizing Hokkaido and more than 500 years since the first Japanese settlements appeared in southern Ezo (as the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido was previously known), the Japanese Diet shocked both the Ainu movement and their supporters by hastily passing a resolution unanimously recognizing Ainu as “Indigenous to the...

Theme One: Representation / Objectification

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2. Ainu Ethnography: Historical Representations in the West

Hans Dieter Ölschleger

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pp. 25-44

In its long history, ethnography, the description of foreign cultures, has taken on different forms. First, there was the imaginative ethnography during the later Middle Ages seeing the outer fringes of the world “peopled” by creatures with dog heads, or three legs; then followed the descriptions of countless European discoverers who in their early colonial endeavors opened...

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3. Tourists, Anthropologists, and Visions of Indigenous Society in Japan

Tessa Morris-Suzuki

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pp. 45-66

In 1994, scholar of globalization Jonathan Friedman published one of the few accounts of Ainu society to appear in a general English-language study of cultural representation. For Friedman, the Ainu are the archetypal representatives of one extreme strategy for preserving and transmitting culture in the modern world. In contrast with the Bakongo people of the Congo, who...

Theme Two: New Critical Responses

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4. Tokyo Ainu and the Urban Indigenous Experience

Mark K. Watson

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pp. 69-85

Aesthetic, moral, and political visions of the Ainu rarely, if ever, involve representations of life lived in the major metropolitan centers of Honshu. In spite of the fact that one major outcome of the Japanese government’s recognition of the Ainu as an Indigenous people in 2008 has been to draw national attention to the situation of Ainu outside of Hokkaido for the...

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5. Charanke

Uzawa Kanako

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pp. 86-91

Looking up at the northern lights in the dark sky of a Norwegian winter, I am reminded of my connection to Ainu culture, my initial motivation in life. I first came to Tromsø in northern Norway more than ten years ago with other Ainu as part of a cultural exchange and performance group. I had...

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6. As a Child of Ainu

Sunazawa Kayo

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pp. 92-98

This chapter introduces another Ainu woman out of place, so to speak. Writing in her own words in English, Sunazawa Kayo, who lives and works in Malaysia, adds another layer of complexity to the portraiture of contemporary Ainu sketched in this book. As a self-described “transnational Ainu,” Sunazawa’s observations on what it means to be Ainu in...

Theme Three: Academic Disciplines and Understandings of Ainu

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7. Is Ainu History Japanese History?

David L. Howell

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pp. 101-116

Anyone who writes on the history of the Ainu necessarily grapples with big questions about the nature of membership in the Japanese national community. Indeed, for many authors these days, the whole point of writing Ainu history is to critique the modern Japanese nation-state and its foundational myths, particularly the idea of ethnic and cultural homogeneity. For such...

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8. Ainu and Hunter-Gatherer Studies

Mark J. Hudson

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pp. 117-135

Any critical discussion of Ainu Studies needs to grapple with the question of hunter-gathering. Until the colonization of Hokkaido, Sakhalin, and the Kurils by Japan and Russia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Ainu were primarily a hunter-gatherer people. Today, scholars have a renewed respect for the resilience and sustainability of hunter-gathering...

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9. Trade and the Paradigm Shift in Research on Ainu Hunting Practices

Deriha Ko¯ji

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pp. 136-150

In this chapter, I describe the changes in research on Ainu hunting practices that have taken place during the last half century. Over this period, research objectives and perspectives have shifted from a focus on hunting technology and hunting as a strategy for procuring food toward theories of exchange. Within the limited pages of this essay, I will focus on these transformations...

Theme Four The Discourse of Culturalism

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10. Our Ancestors’ Handprints: The Evolution of Ainu Women’s Clothing Culture

Tsuda Nobuko

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pp. 153-170

As noted in the introduction to this volume, subsistence practices such as foraging and fishing, combined with the lack of a text recognizable as writing, provided the rationale for archaeologists to assign Ainu culture to a lower evolutionary tier. Here Tsuda Nobuko proposes a system for reading Ainu clothing. [The extracts below in italic stem from a March 23, 2010, ...

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11. The Gender of Cloth: Ainu Women and Cultural Revitalization

ann-elise lewallen

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pp. 171-184

In his essay “The Violence of the Letter,” Jacques Derrida (1976) responds to Claude Levi-Strauss’ account of the Nambikwara people of Brazil, in particular their spectacular imitation of writing whereby the chief drew a series of lines and then “read” from a paper, cataloguing the objects that Levi-Strauss was expected to gift the Nambikwara. “Writing itself,” Levi-Strauss wrote...

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12. From Collecting Words to Writing Grammars: A Brief History of Ainu Linguistics

Kirsten Refsing

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pp. 185-199

A few centuries ago, Ainu was spoken widely in the northwestern regions of the Pacific Rim with Hokkaido as the center. Toponymic research in the Tōhoku area has revealed Ainu etymologies for a large number of place names there (Yamada 1982–1983). From Russian explorers we have sporadic references to Ainu residents on the southern tip of the Kamchatka...

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13. The Ainu, Law, and Legal Mobilization, 1984–2009

Georgina Stevens

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pp. 200-222

The relationship between Indigenous groups and their colonizers’ laws has traditionally been one whereby colonial powers impose their legal doctrines to classify, control, and subvert Indigenous peoples in their own lands. The Ainu situation is no exception. Under the legal order imposed by Japan, Ainu had their land stolen and traditional practices banned, and were redefined...


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pp. 223-250


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pp. 251-252


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pp. 253-259

Production Notes, Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780824839185
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824836979

Publication Year: 2014