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The making of the migratory experience: Arts and lives of Mexicans with Japanese ancestry in historical and contemporary perspective.

Fri, May 25, 7:30 to 9:00pm, TBA

Abstract

An emergent field has begun to address perceptions and representations of Asia and their influence in the construction of Latin American identities. Most of these works elaborate on Said’s orientalism, how it differs from that of other countries, and analyse references to Asian countries, including Japan, by canonical and new artistic and literary Latin American figures. However, the role of culture in the transnational experience of migration, inner workings of community and identity remains largely unexplored. Large-scale long-distance migration from Japan to Mexico began in 1897, and since then there have been other migratory flows which have varied in terms of origin, destination, gender, age, marital status, occupation and mobility patterns. These migratory waves spanned the turmoil of wars, revolutions and social movements from the Sino-Japanese war (1894-1895) to WW2 (1939-1945). Even though post-war Japan’s economic expansion shifted its relationship with Mexico toward trade, investment and aid, population movements did not cease. Migration patterns were transformed in the 1950s producing at least three distinctive migratory waves that have impacted on previous ones. This paper focuses on one of these distinctive waves. It addresses the experiences of a selection of artists of Japanese ancestry born, raised, or living in Mexico. It then examines their cultural productions, identity formation, and the ways in which discursive encounters among ethnicity, race and racism, homeland and cosmopolitanism inform their aesthetics.

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