Accepted Paper:

Indigenous presence in articulation: cases from Guatemala, the Ryukyu Islands and Hokkaido, Japan, compared  


Yoshinobu Ota (Kyushu University)

Paper short abstract:

A comparative study of how indigenous politics of identity might be viewed in three locations: Guatemala, the Ryukyu Islands, and Hokkaido, Japan.

Paper long abstract:

This paper is a comparative study in formations of anthropological theories as they arise in response to the indigenous politics of identity in three locations: Maya movement in Guatemala, "Independence" activism in the Ryukyu Islands, Japan and Ainu activism in Hokkaido, Japan. While anthropologists have evaluated increasingly widespread indigenous visibility in Latin America--post -Peace Accord Maya case in Guatemala, for example--as already being circumscribed by the state-sponsored neoliberal multiculturalism, I advance a more open-ended, articulatory perspective toward the same visibility observed in two Japanese cases, both of which make me, a Japanese anthropologist/citizen, to reflect critically on my own theoretical stance largely resulting from my fieldwork experience in Guatemala. In the Ryukyu Islands the discourse of decolonization has been wide-spread; it anchors its legitimacy in the language of indigeneity. "Independence" activists express their desire for self-determination by translating decolonization as the exercise of indigenous right. For some Ainu activists their challenge is to reaffirm in contemporary Japan their presence after being declared as completely disappeared, an act of reinsription which not only reconfigures the meaning of (indigenous) sovereignty but also adumbrates a possible future for historical healing.

Panel P026
Indigenous futures and anthropological renewals