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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien

Nationalism, Globalism and Culturalism in the Discourse on Japanese Identity

February 15, 2000 / 6.30 P.M.

Kosaku Yoshino (Professor, The University of Tokyo)

The classic study of nationalism has tended to be confined to the political process of ideological manipulation and mobilisation whereby elites produce nationalist ideology and impose it on obedient subjects of the state.  It overlooks many interesting instances of cultural nationalism.  By shifting the focus, this presentation shows that the workings of nationalism in contemporary Japan can usefully be examined by paying attention to the cultural “marketplace” in which discourses on Japanese distinctiveness are “produced”, “reproduced” and “consumed”.  Attention is drawn to the hitherto neglected role of “cultural intermediaries” – who stand between intellectuals and the masses – in promoting cultural nationalism. Analysis is made of social contexts in which “cultural intermediaries”, engaged in “cross-culture industries”, reproduce the nihonjinron (ideas of Japanese uniqueness) in increasingly global settings.

Kosaku Yoshino is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Tokyo.  He took a PhD at the London School of Economics and Political Science.  He specialises in studies of nationalism and globalism in Japan and Southeast Asia.  His books include Cultural Nationalism in Contemporary Japan (Routledge, 1992), A Sociology of Cultural Nationalism (Nagoya University Press, 1997), and Consuming Ethnicity and Nationalism: Asian Experiences (Editor, Curzon Press, 1999).