Diaspora and IdentityJapanese Brazilians in Brazil and Japan

Diaspora and IdentityJapanese Brazilians in Brazil and Japan

Mieko Nishida

Print publication date: 2018

ISBN: 9780824867935

Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press


Much has been published on the history of Japanese immigration to Brazil, Japanese Brazilians in Brazil, and Japanese Brazilians’ “return” labor migrations to Japan (known as dekassegui). Yet none has gone beyond and above the essentialized categories of “the Japanese” in Brazil and “Brazilians” in Japan. This book demonstrates that Japanese Brazilian identity has never been a static, fixed set of traits that can be counted and inventoried.  Rather it is about being and becoming, a process of identity in motion responding to the push-and-pull between being positioned and positioning in a historically changing world.  The book is based on the author’s painstaking research in Brazil and Japan between 1997 and 2013, involving extensive life history interviews (and follow-ups) with 116 Japanese Brazilians of several generations and diverse social backgrounds, in combination with substantial archival research and multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork.  This book examines Japanese immigrants and their descendants’ historically shifting sense of identity that comes from their engagement or experience of historical changes in socioeconomic and political structure.  Each chapter illustrates how Japanese Brazilian identity is in formation, across generation, across gender, across class, across race, and in the movement of people between nations.