Places, Images, Times & Transformations


Anthropologist William Kelly explains nihonjinron as follows: "Nihonjinron are 'treaties on Japaneseness.' The term refers particularly to a publishing boom of national character studies in Japan that has engaged academic scholarship and the mass media of the last 30 years. 'Who are we Japanese?' the Nihonjinron literature asks, and it answers the question not for the historical moment but for all time. Its drumbeat is the coherence, continuity, and, above all, the uniqueness of an entity variously hypostatized as Japanese society, or the Japanese personality, or the Japanese brain, or the Japanese language, or Japanese sensibility... Distinctive values, a unique language, and a national psychology are among the terms by which the analyses are framed." (exerpt from William Kelly. 1988. "Japanology Bashing." American Ethnologist. vol. 15, no. 2, p. 365).

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