Introduction to East Asia

| ASN 3410 (U01) | Fall 2015 | Masako Kubota |

Course Overview

Ainu means "people” or “humans” in their language and refers to the indigenous people of Japan. In spite of the assimilation policies and persistent discrimination, Ainu have maintained their culture. Their continuous efforts finally achieved official recognition by the Japanese government in 2008. When taught by Masako Kubota, this course covers why and how contemporary Ainu people preserve their culture amid oppression, and to examine Ainu women’s role, especially the elder women called fuchi. Then first of all we observe the core elements of Ainu culture, and second, we examine reasons for maintain Ainu culture: 1) meeting emotional needs 2) meeting economic needs, and 3) meeting social needs. Third, we examine 1) ethnic tourism, 2) story telling, and 3) local and international indigenous gatherings that are core ways how the Ainu preserve their culture amid oppression. I argue that ethnic tourism and gatherings serve distinct but interconnected functions in preserving and transmitting Ainu culture–whereas ethnic tourism is more oriented to profit the market, and professionalism, gatherings are more oriented towards community and the daily lives of “average” Ainu.