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Squared diaspora: Representations of the Japanese diaspora across time and space

This introduction to the special issue on the Japanese diaspora sets the background to the theme by summarizing the key components of diaspora theory and pointing out some fallacies and conceptual shortcomings this volume attempts to overcome. The article argues that the complexity of the contemporary diaspora of Japanese emigrants and their descendants at the intersection with the emerging Nikkei diaspora provides peculiar insights into the spatial dimensions and social dynamics of transmigration. Rather than taken for granted the conceptual differentiation of diaspora and homeland, it argues to understand them in terms of dynamic relationships between space, time and identity, which are realized in discourses and forms of practice. Contributions to this volume square the conceptualization of the diaspora and the homeland. They provide evidence for the argument of the ‘squared diaspora’ by pointing out the shifting alignments of locality, identity and agency. Identity and representations of diasporic belonging therefore are varying and fluid concepts, depending on generation, ascription, and collectively shared assumptions about the utilitarian value of ethnic labeling. The volume also warn of the analytic shortcoming of privileging one subjectivity like place of birth or ethnicity over all others.


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Contemporary Japan


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