Rethinking Japanese "Culture"
Welcome to the lecture "Rethinking Japanese "Culture": Anxiety, Identity, and Becoming-Other" by University of Tokyo professor, Tadashi Yanai.
This talk begins by discussing two books of anthropology of Japan recently published in English: Exploring the Anxiety of Being Japanese: A New Look at Nihonjinron (by Takeo Funabiki, 2018) and Escaping Japan: Reflections on Estrangement and Exile in the Twenty-First Century (edited by Blai Guarné and Paul Hansen, 2018).
These are thought-provoking books that permit us to grasp the concrete—and fragmentary—movements of life, underneath what we call "Japanese culture" perhaps too generically. Anxiety, identity, and becoming are three of the main concepts that appear in them.
Anyway, this does not mean that discussing Japaneseness is finished. Simply we should do it more carefully.
The latter part of the talk develops this line of thought, where one of the references is Takayuki Kumagai's book Japanese is a cinematic language (2011).
Eventually, thinking about Japaneseness will be presented as an inspiring way of considering identity and becoming in the contemporary world at large.
Tadashi Yanai is a Professor of Cultural Anthropology in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tokyo.
He was trained in sociocultural anthropology in Tokyo, but has also been deeply interested in cinema and in philosophy (especially Spinoza, Bergson and Deleuze) for many years. His anthropological ideas—interconnected with philosophical and cinematic ones—have recently crystallized in his book An Anthropology of Images (in Japanese, 2018).
There are three things that have notably influenced his way of thinking as anthropologist: ethnographic studies among indigenous peoples of South America, the relationship with Spain (where he lived several years) and the Spanish language, and the use of the Japanese language in daily and academic communication.