Japan's Diversity Controversy: How is Japan homogeneous/heterogeneous?
A Lecture by Dr. Harumi Befu
Tuesday, May 1
6:00pm, Maraschi Hall in Fromm, University of San Francisco Main Campus
Dr. Befu's lecture will explore the following: Japan is generally characterized as a "homogeneous nation" both by the Japanese themselves and by outsiders. Upon scrutiny, this characterization turns out to be inaccurate and misleading. First, we must distinguish between the image of the Japanese about themselves and about their culture, on the one hand, and the perception of outsiders about the Japanese and their culture, on the other. While these two sets of data are closely interrelated, they are not identical: Outsiders often see the Japanese in different light from the Japanese themselves. Secondly, perception and image are not necessarily the same as the empirical reality. Particularly in this case, the Japanese tend to see themselves more homogeneous than statistics show. When people talk about the homogeneity of the Japanese, we need to ask: is the assertion made by the Japanese, or by outsiders? Is it about the empirical reality or is it about people/s "perceived" reality?
Dr. Harumi Befu (Emeritus at Stanford University) was raised in Japan from age 6 to 17. He received his BA (UCLA) and PhD (Wisconsin) in Anthropology, and his MA (Michigan) in Far Eastern Studies. He's been on Stanford faculty since1965 and retired in 1996. He taught at numerous universities in Asia, Europe and Mexico and is the recipient of grants from: the National Science Foundation, Wenner-Gren Foundation, Japan Foundation, Fulbright-Hays, Japanís Ministry of Education, etc. His major publications include: Japan: An Anthropological Introduction; Hegemony of Homogeneity; Globalizing Japan, and (in Japanese) Nihon-Jinruigakuteki Nyumon (Japan: An Anthropological Introduction), and Ideorogi to shite no Nihon Bunkaron (Discourse on Japan as an Ideology). His current major interests are globalization, foreign workers in Japan, and demographic dynamics and social change.
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