Although there is no such thing as a "homogeneous nation" in the world, Japan often has been falsely regarded as a country of a singular ethnicity and civilization. Is Japan a nation-state of one race and unified culture? Who are the voices in Japan defying this kind of Japanese myth? How do they claim their rights and agencies as members of Japanese society? What peoples have been discriminated against by other communities, despite their indigenous Japanese roots? What kind of relationship do these internal "others" have with the Japanese state?
This course explores Japan's domestic minorities as depicted in Japanese literature and film, whose stories and images have been largely untold and invisible in the mainstream culture. Among the various minority groups in Japan, we will pay special attention to four groups: (1) the country's culturally defined minority group since the feudal era, burakumin (the untouchables); (2) the country's oldest and biggest foreign ethnic group, Koreans ("zainichi"), and other Asians; (3) the people of Japan's internal colony, Okinawa; and (4) Japan's medical outcasts, the victims of atomic disasters in Hiroshima and Fukushima. Students will deal with materials about the specified groups produced by prominent figures in Japanese literary and cinema history. At the same time, students will examine materials created by the otherized subjects themselves to probe how marginalized beings represent themselves in ways that are different from the dominant media portrayals.