On January 21st, 2021, the 21st Century Japan Politics and Society Initiative (21JPSI*) hosted an interdisciplinary academic manuscript workshop organized around the theme of “Race and Multiculturalism in Contemporary Japan.” Six U.S.- and Japan-based scholars convened virtually to present and receive critical feedback on academic works-in-progress. Each working paper was the subject of a dedicated session designed to provide the paper’s author with critical feedback from an assigned discussant and other participants. The workshop was organized by 21JPSI Faculty Affiliate Marvin Sterling and 21JPSI Director Adam P. Liff.
At the “Race and Multiculturalism in Contemporary Japan” workshop’s first session, Dr. Marvin Sterling (Indiana University) presented an article manuscript on global blackness and the “kokujin-hafu” experience in Japan. Dr. Sterling is an associate professor in Indiana University’s Hamilton Lugar School and Department of Anthropology. Ms. Kimberly Hassel, a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University, served as the discussant of Dr. Sterling’s paper.
During the workshop’s second session, Dr. Atsuko Abe (J. F. Oberlin University) presented an article focused on immigration policies and how they exacerbate gender inequality in Japan and South Korea. Dr. Abe is a professor of political science and international relations at J. F. Oberlin University. Professor Marvin Sterling served as the discussant.
At the workshop’s third session, Ms. Yasmine Krings (University of California, Los Angeles) presented a working paper evaluating the irreconcilability of Black Japanese-ness through an analysis of the 1953 film Yassa Mossa, directed by Shibuya Minoru. Ms. Krings is a Ph.D candidate at the University of California, Los Angeles, researching portrayals of mixed race-ness in Japan through visual textual media. Professor Atsuko Abe served as the discussant on Ms. Krings’ paper.
During the workshop’s fourth session, Dr. Mitzi Carter (Florida International University) presented an article examining Black Okinawan racialization in militarized spaces. Dr. Carter is an assistant teaching professor of anthropology and East Asian studies at Florida International University, where she also serves as director of the Global Indigenous Forum. Professor Yuichiro Onishi from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, served as the discussant.
During the penultimate session, Dr. Yuichiro Onishi (University of Minnesota, Twin Cities) presented a manuscript draft exploring a theory of deoccupation focusing on the state of affairs in Okinawa. Professor Onishi is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of African American & African Studies and core faculty in the Asian American Studies Program at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Ms. Yasmine Krings of the University of California, Los Angeles, served as the discussant.
The workshop concluded with a presentation and discussion of a paper written by Ms. Kimberly Hassel (Princeton University) on digital activism, Black Lives Matters, and Black Japanese counternarratives in contemporary Japan. Ms. Hassel is a PhD candidate in the Department of East Asian Studies at Princeton University. Prof. Mitzi Carter of Florida International University served as the discussant during the final session.
*The 21st Century Japan Politics and Society Initiative (21JPSI) was launched at Indiana University’s Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies in 2018. Under the leadership of Founding Director and HLS faculty member Adam Liff, 21JPSI aims to invigorate and expand research, teaching, and programming on contemporary Japanese politics, society, and international (esp. U.S.-Japan) relations, and to educate, raise awareness, and debate policy responses to the various political, social, and foreign policy challenges that Japan faces in this extremely dynamic era of 21st-century change. Supported by a generous $900,000 grant from the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership, in its first five years 21JPSI has enabled a new tenure-track faculty search; new courses on contemporary Japan; a speaker series on Japanese Politics and Society; biennial conferences on U.S.-Japan relations; graduate research fellowships, and faculty travel grants. For more information, please see https://jpsi.indiana.edu/ or write to firstname.lastname@example.org