In her Gaijin (1980), Tizuka Yamasaki (b. 1949) narrates a story of a young woman who marries her older brother’s best friend for the sake of their immigration to Brazil in 1908, and eventually becomes an independent working single mother in the city. Even though the story is loosely based on her maternal grandmother’s life, Yamasaki uses the movie to express her own identity as an educated Brazilian woman, who was involved in women’s movement during Brazil’s military regime. The movie received international acclaim but has not been widely appreciated among the Japanese in Brazil, mainly because it challenges the essentialization of Japanese Brazilian identity, which obscures gender and class. Inspired by Gaijin, which gives a voice to the historical “voiceless,” this book employs life history/story as its main methodology, in combination with substantial archival research. Each informant narrates his/her story and reveals his/her complex identity in relation to the Japanese-born but US-based author, based on their “shared” Japanese ancestry.
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