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Japanese Reggae/Dancehall F13

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Julie Jenkins

on 3 March 2014

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Transcript of Japanese Reggae/Dancehall F13

Japanese Reggae/Dancehall:
Class, Race, Ethnicity, & Nationalism

--Reggae, Dancehall, Rastafari produced in context of Jamaican experiences of racism & global marginalisation
--then imported to Japan
In Japan, they are "localized"
situated in new sets of meanings, experiences, social positions
--not just consuming Jamaican reggae, dancehall
--producing Japanese Reggae, Dancehall
Distanced from Jamaican origins, but engagement with Jamaica important in establishing authority, legitimacy (patois, dub plates, competitions)
Japanese subcultures of Reggae, Dancehall, Rastafari
--groups without boundaries
Does membership in these subcultures speak to class, race, and issues of ethnicity in same way it does in Jamaica?
What is 'class'?
group defined in terms of wealth, occupation or other economic criteria
--but also can have specific values, norms, ideas, language associated with a class-group
What is 'race'?
"culturally constructed label (classification) that crudely and imprecisely describes real (human) variation" (Relethford).
--physical variation associated with populations originating in specific environments
--Does NOT produce discrete categories of people
--biologically/genetically meaningless classification
But..meaningful in social interactions, institutions, etc
--hierarchies created in specific historical moments
--means of justifying labor and political exploitation, denial of opportunities, wealth, status
What is 'Ethnicity'?
-Social classification, creating groups, based on selected cultural features
--produced in relation to other groups (situational)
--identification can be manipulated (not inherent to the individual)
What is Nationalism?
ideas, values, norms etc that instill sense of belonging & loyalty to citizens of a nation state
Class in Japan
--idea that everyone is middle-class
--most identify as such

Wealth is distributed more evenly,
--values the middle-class standard of living
--pressure to obtain this life-style
--"Work hard, spend hard capitalism"
--rooted in Meritocracy (mostly)
study/work hard- good school- good college- good job in good company
--system of rewarding those who work hard
Producers of Reggae/Dancehall
--most not going to become middle-class/live the lifestyle
--recognized as outside middle-class b/c of linguistic style
--don't want to be part of rigors of Japanese corporate lifestyle
--but don't see a lot of viable alternatives
Race/Ethnicity in Japan
Regards itself as "homoracial", "monoethnic"
--linked to Nationalism
--one ethnicity (minzoku), one language (gengo)
understanding that if of Japanese "descent", one knows culture
Howell argues:
--forced minorities in Japan to either reject other identities or become institutionalized as an 'other'.
different identifications:
--"people of village"
--"Eta" (extreme filth)
--Not physically different than other Japanese
--group status recognized - 17th century
--lower class "polluting" professions (butchery, leather-making)
--abolished discrimination against in 1871
--but negative sentiments remain
--group identity remains

Stereotyped as "crude, brutal, quarrelsome"
-accused of having an unseen physical variation
Nationalism in Japan
--rooted in ideology of homogeneity (class, racial, ethnic)
--underplays internal differences
-take of reggae & rastafari to negotiate position of either having to assimilate or reject wider society
drawn into subculture(s) because feel 'outside' of Japanese middle-class ideal
but emphasize Japanese nationalism & belonging over ethnicity

Sterling (& others) argue:
--Nationalism produced in context of relationship between Japan and the "West" starting in 1850s
--agrarian to industrialized society
--through adoption of Western industry, science, technology, education, etc. (Meiji Revolution)
--but also 'localized'-- emphasis on social duty, order vs competition, government/business cooperation vs regulation
In encounter:
--had to emphasize Japanese 'civility', distinct from "Western" colonies (inferior, savages, etc.)
Sterling argues:
--Japan takes on 'Western' stereotypes of "blackness"
--and they have been largely unchallenged
But...anxieties over Westernization; political, economic, cultural integration & autonomy
--worked out through consumption of the non-Japanese
--and able to forge various identities through consumption of the 'non-West'.
drawn to reggae b/c sense of shared "blackness"
--"blackness"- set of symbolic practices, ideas etc that reference historical and contemporary marginalization

Use this to critique "Western" consumption, competition with "West", "Western morality"
--by emphasizing "Japanese" identity
--(with problematic ideas of "blackness")
Full transcript