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The Fight for the Self-Representation: Ainu Imaginary, Ethnicity and Assimilation

Centeno, Marcos (2017) 'The Fight for the Self-Representation: Ainu Imaginary, Ethnicity and Assimilation.' Aphaville. Journal of Film and Screen Media (13). pp. 69-89.

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Abstract

Film representation of the Ainu people is as long as cinema but it has not remained stable over time. From the origins of cinema, Ainu people were an object of interest for Japanese and foreign explorers who portrayed them as an “other” savage and isolated from the modern world. The notion of “otherness” was slightly modified during wartime, as the Ainu were represented as other Japanese subjects within the “imperial family” and at the end of the fifties, during which entertainment cinema presented the Ainu according to the western Hollywood code on the one hand; and Mikio Naruse proposed a new portrayal Ainu focusing on the Ainu as a long discriminated social collective rather than as an ethnic group, on the other. However, Tadayoshi Himeda's series of seven documentaries following the Ainu leader Shigeru Kayano’s activities marked a significant shift in Ainu iconography. Himeda challenged both the postwar institutional discourse on the inexistence of minorities in Japan, and the touristic and ahistorical image that concealed the Ainu’s cultural assimilation to Japanese culture. The proposed films do not try to show an exotic people but a conventional people struggling to recover their collective past.

Item Type: Journal Article
Additional Information: lphaville is listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), WorldCat, and the Cork Open Research Archive (CORA), and indexed in the International Index to Film Periodicals (FIAF).
Keywords: Japanese documentary cinema, Tadayoshi Himeda, Kayano Shigeru, Ainu, ethnic minorities.
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of East Asian Languages & Cultures
Legacy Departments > Faculty of Languages and Cultures > Centre for Film Studies
Legacy Departments > Faculty of Languages and Cultures > Department of the Languages and Cultures of Japan and Korea
Subjects: N Fine Arts
ISSN: 20094078
Depositing User: Marcos Centeno
Date Deposited: 16 Jun 2017 16:08
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/24117

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