Against Homogeneity: Visual Insubordination and Discourses on Japanese Uniqueness
Japan's identity has been a subject of particular array of discourses called Nihonjinron generated primarily in its native environment. Those discourses were especially dominant in postwar period and often marked as a result of national quest for reconstructing national identity after devastating defeat. Ranging from various fields of study, from linguistics, philosophy, sociology to geography and biology, Nihonjinron rhetoric implements the singularity of Japan and its people by insisting, among other aspects, on particularity of Japanese race and blood which enables mutual understanding among the Japanese and positioning foreigners as "culturally incompetent" to fully apprehend their culture or completely master their language. Therefore, such commending of ethnic and cultural homogeneity and uniqueness has been criticized as Japan's own strategy that supports a notion of its national identity as a paradigm of Western disparity. However, this "self-orientalism" perspective operates as a far more complex factor than it appears to be; proclaiming the right to name and define Japan's identity as sui generis, as well as reinforcing western essentialism of a distant Other. Questioning the idiosyncrasy, collectivism and production of meanings, this paper investigates the relation between the language, its "originality" and visual spaces in the domain of Japan's cultural identity.
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