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What Cyborgs Can( ’t) Do about Japanese Identities: Japaneseness as a Product of the Internalized Euro-American Gaze

Sugawara, Maari (2021) What Cyborgs Can( ’t) Do about Japanese Identities: Japaneseness as a Product of the Internalized Euro-American Gaze. Masters thesis, OCAD University.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Sugawara, Maari

This art-based research project problematizes constructed postwar Japanese identity by unraveling the links between Japan’s Eurocentrism, the country’s active invitation of the Orientalist gaze, and the artificial amnesia of its colonial aggression towards other Asian countries.

Needing to take advantage of Orientalist projections by dominant Western powers, postwar Japanese national and cultural identity resorted to self-Orientalism. The “Japan Brand” Strategy— the government-owned production site of “Cool Japan” imagery and cultural policy, not only created a liberated and humane image of postwar Japan globally but it was also devised as a mechanism to induce a collective amnesia that allowed Japan to disregard its colonial past and engender a soft nationalism. This narcissistic discourse celebrates the rise of the Japanese economy, affirming the country’s superiority while distancing itself from the imaginary “impoverished” continent of Asia. Through time, Japan’s self-defined “pure originality”—which emerged as a counter-narrative to Japan’s being infamous for its ability to imitate to the West—became internalized by the Japanese, along with the new marketable versions of Japaneseness. Japan’s self-Orientalism was an unexpected side-effect of playing US’s “Japan” (a subordinate’s double identification) and its dependence on the dominant West.

Using shanzhai (meaning “fake” and the idea that nothing is original), my art project aims to rethink constructed Japanese identities as delinked from the idea of “originality” and devoid of internalized Orientalism. Employing speculative fiction tropes to communicate the contingency of Japanese identities, my art project defamiliarizes current discourses surrounding Japanese identity. Contributing to the fields of Japanese studies and visual cultures, my art project is a visual assemblage employing photography, videography, contemporary digital media, stock materials, and speculative fiction narratives to create a speculative world.

Date: 15 February 2021
Uncontrolled Keywords: Japaneseness, Data Colonization, Soft Nationalism, Cyborgs, Eurocentrism, Self Orientalism, Decolonization, Deconstruction, Politics of Translation, Shanzhai, Speculative Fiction, Digital Media, Japanese Studies, Critical Race Studies
Divisions: Graduate Studies > Interdisciplinary Art, Media and Design
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Date Deposited: 11 May 2021 18:53
Last Modified: 20 Dec 2021 21:00
URI: https://openresearch.ocadu.ca/id/eprint/3321

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