Document Type

Honors Project


This paper tells the stories of mixed-race Japanese people. I engage in a re-poetics, positing storytelling as an essential tool into complicating our understandings of race and self. I examine the relationship between language and race, exploring how subjects existing within a space of mixedness navigate identity-formation and racial belonging. Operating under a socio-constructivist lens, I begin with a brief re-telling of the history of race in Japan, re-framing mythologies of race throughout literature, legislation, and into national and colonial projects. While popular discourse alleges Japan was and is a country of racial homogeneity, I argue that this falsifies colonial legacies and denies contemporary realities. I contextualize racial formation in Japan as a convergence of pre-existing language surrounding blood and purity with a racialist Western worldview. The second half of this paper transitions towards instances of identity formation. Through a brief linguistic case study, I illustrate the way televisual media reproduces Japaneseness discourse, and the way racialized hāfu people must negotiate their identities within its discursive rules, speaking to the embodied tensions of mixedness. Using a combination of interview and autoethnographic material, I center our voices to produce a comprehensive (though not omniscient) view of lived experiences within, through, and between racial lines. Finally, I explore the implications of undoing racial language and consider racial futurities.



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