The fabric of indigeneity: Ainu identity, gender, and settler colonialism in Japan

Clammer, John (2018) The fabric of indigeneity: Ainu identity, gender, and settler colonialism in Japan. [Book Reviews]

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The Ainu, the indigenous inhabitants of what is now (and has been since the late nineteenth century) the northernmost main island of Japan – Hokkaido – today face a major problem of identity. Effectively colonized by the majority Japanese, their population diluted through extensive inter-marriage with that majority community, and frequently denigrated as backward (along with Japan’s other significant minorities of Okinawans, Koreans and some would argue the Buraku people), the claiming or re-claiming of membership in the Ainu community is fraught with difficulties. This book addresses these difficulties. It can be read at a number of levels – of social mobilization through art and other forms of cultural production, as a study of cloth in relation to the assertion of indigeneity, as the study of a little known (in the scholarship of colonialism and post-colonialism) example of settler colonialism in the Far East, and as a study of gender as it pertains to the re-assertion of membership in an indigenous community that has seen itself as, if not under direct attack, at least subject to erosion through the corrosive forces of displacement, marginalization, denigration, migration and inter-marriage. While focused primarily on the strategies of Ainu women, the book does not confine itself exclusively to the gender aspect, but also addresses the problems of young Ainu now being forced or encouraged to choose between their ancestral identity and that of assimilating to the mainstream Japanese one, and also the dilemmas of would-be Ainu (those with some claim, even if a diluted one, to membership in the now visible and perhaps even fashionable Ainu community) and what might be called “ex-Ainu” – those who had effectively left the community through inter-marriage with Japanese, migration or other factors, and who now wish to in some form join or re-join.

Item Type: Book Reviews
Keywords: Fabric | Japan | Ainu | Burako people
Subjects: Social Sciences and humanities > Arts and Humanities > Religious studies
Social Sciences and humanities > Arts and Humanities > Arts and Humanities (General)
Social Sciences and humanities > Social Sciences > Cultural Studies
JGU School/Centre: Jindal School of Liberal Arts & Humanities
Depositing User: Mr Sombir Dahiya
Date Deposited: 18 Jan 2022 10:51
Last Modified: 16 Jun 2022 07:39
Official URL:


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