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A Study on the Ethnic Representation of Ainu in the Japanese Mass Media-Focusing on Kawagoe Soichi’s Netsugen and Noda Satoru’s Godlen Kamuy

  • Journal of Humanities, Seoul National University
  • 2023, 80(1), pp.137-165
  • DOI : 10.17326/jhsnu.80.1.202302.137
  • Publisher : Institute of Humanities, Seoul National University
  • Research Area : Humanities > Other Humanities
  • Received : January 11, 2023
  • Accepted : January 31, 2023
  • Published : February 28, 2023

Jo YoungJoon 1

1名古屋大学

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The purposes of this study are to critically analyze the representation of the Ainu people in the Japanese mass media and to review the methods used by current Japanese writers to narrate Ainu ethnic experience. The study argues that the existential problems of ethnic Ainu have been neglected and that outdated, ‘savage’ stereotypes of earlier generations have become ingrained. Although some previous representations have had the positive aspect of introducing the traditions of the Ainu, criticism of who bears the responsibility for the risk of the extinction of their cultural traditions is weak and there is a lack of a clear explanation of the background of this dark history. In related literary works, the close relationship and exchanges between Japan and the Ainu people have been partially demonstrated. However, despite the amicable stories of positive relations between the two cultures, a sense of responsibility for the damage done to the livelihoods and traditions of the Ainu has been lacking. In addition, during the early 20th century, the attention paid to the violence of the Russian empire and its harmful influence on neighboring nations, including Japan, has obscured the impact of the aggressive actions of the Japanese empire itself. This has arguably caused a dilution of responsibility within Japan for the domination of the Ainu, enabled by a conservative transformation of the realities of the Japanese empire through its representation as the subject of pillage in modern northeast Asia, interpreted through the ideology of imperialism that occurred globally during this period. While it is positive that contemporary literary texts are renewing public interest in this disappeared ethnic group, it can be argued that their approaches should move beyond experiments with new subject matter to engage with indigenous perspectives that adopt a more careful attitude to the narration of the historical experience of ethnic groups such as the Ainu.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.

This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.