Accepted Paper:

Toward a more globalized anthropology of race: some implications from "invisible races" in East Asia  


Yasuko Takezawa (Kyoto University)

Paper short abstract:

In contrast to the globalized anti-racism movements, race studies has remained transatlantic-centered. By drawing examples from “invisible races” in East Asia, this paper attempts to explore some potential implications of these cases when juxtaposed with the transatlantic experiences.

Paper long abstract:

In contrast to the globalized anti-racism movements and the ratifications of the anti-racism convention, race studies have remained far less inclusive, drawing theoretical frameworks and empirical data mostly from (post-)colonial experiences in the transatlantic. The academic and social discourse, which has in general associated race with the phenotypic visibility of the human body, has suppressed investigations of racialization and the public awareness of racism surrounding "invisible races," especially outside of the transatlantic world. In European modernity, vision was granted a nearly exclusive privilege and used also for the production of "scientific" knowledge in human classification and subsequent ranking. Today, the visibility of phenotypic "differences" and other sociocultural markers tends to provide the subject of visual consumption in global capitalism. On the other hand, some parts of Asia, especially East Asia, which have traditionally embraced the myth of "raceless societies," may provide interesting case studies in considering the interplay of visibility and invisibility in defining racial distinctions and in the consequent forms of racism against those designated populations. Among others, occupation, location of residence, and nomadic lifestyles have served as visible markers of invisible races such as burakumin in Japan and paekjong in Korea. The discourse of sacred/polluted, civilized/barbarian, and high/low based on blood ideology became particularly intense after the Meiji Restoration in Japan's nation-building and empire expansion (1868). This paper, drawing examples mainly from Japan, Korea, and the United States, attempts to explore in its embryonic stage some potential implications of these cases to juxtapose them with transatlantic experiences.

Panel P132
Engaging race and racism in the new millennium: exploring visibilities and invisibilities (IUAES/JASCA joint panel)