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A Discontented Diaspora: Japanese Brazilians and the Meanings of Ethnic Militancy, 1960-1980 (Hardback)
  • A Discontented Diaspora: Japanese Brazilians and the Meanings of Ethnic Militancy, 1960-1980 (Hardback)
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A Discontented Diaspora: Japanese Brazilians and the Meanings of Ethnic Militancy, 1960-1980 (Hardback)

(author)
£86.00
Hardback 256 Pages / Published: 14/09/2007
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In A Discontented Diaspora, Jeffrey Lesser investigates broad questions of ethnicity, the nature of diasporic identity, and Brazilian culture. He does so by exploring particular experiences of young Japanese Brazilians who came of age in Sao Paulo during the 1960s and 1970s, an intensely authoritarian period of military rule. The most populous city in Brazil, Sao Paulo was also the world's largest "Japanese" city outside of Japan by 1960. Believing that their own regional identity should be the national one, residents of Sao Paulo constantly discussed the relationship between Brazilianness and Japaneseness. As second-generation Nikkei (Brazilians of Japanese descent) moved from the agricultural countryside of their immigrant parents into various urban professions, they became the "best Brazilians" in terms of their ability to modernize the country and the "worst Brazilians" because they were believed to be the least likely to fulfill the cultural dream of whitening. Lesser analyzes how Nikkei both resisted and conformed to others' perceptions of their identity as they struggled to define and claim their own ethnicity within Sao Paulo during the military dictatorship.

Lesser draws on a wide range of sources, including films, oral histories, wanted posters, advertisements, newspapers, photographs, police reports, government records, and diplomatic correspondence. He focuses on two particular cultural arenas-erotic cinema and political militancy-which highlight the ways that Japanese Brazilians imagined themselves to be Brazilian. As he explains, young Nikkei were sure that their participation in these two realms would be recognized for its Brazilianness. They were mistaken. Whether joining banned political movements, training as guerrilla fighters, or acting in erotic films, the subjects of A Discontented Diaspora militantly asserted their Brazilianness only to find that doing so reinforced their minority status.

Publisher: Duke University Press
ISBN: 9780822340607
Number of pages: 256
Weight: 499 g
Dimensions: 235 x 156 x 21 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
"A Discontented Diaspora is the best work that I have read on the people of Japanese descent in Latin America, bar none. Jeffrey Lesser's research does no less than create a whole new vocabulary for the study of evolving Nikkei personal, artistic, and political identities. This is a book that I wish I had written."-Lane Hirabayashi, senior editor of New Worlds, New Lives: Globalization and People of Japanese Descent in the Americas and from Latin America in Japan
"Two books in one: a lively and engaging examination of Brazil's 'model minority,' and a probing analysis of the ambiguities and complexities of Brazilian 'racial democracy.' Highly recommended."-George Reid Andrews, author of Afro-Latin America, 1800-2000
"A Discontented Diaspora is an important contribution to our understanding of Brazilian culture and society." -- James N. Green * Hispanic American Historical Review *
"Jeffrey Lesser adds significantly to our appreciation of the complexity of ethnic and racial relations in Brazil with this study of Japanese Brazilians during the period of military dictatorship. . . This is an important book that examines issues of the Brazilian Nikkei ethnic identity in unique ways. Lesser has done his research well." -- Daniel Masterson * Journal of Latin American Studies *
"Jeffrey Lesser's examination of Japanese Brazilians provides insight into a unique Japanese phenomenon. . . . This book is a fascinating analysis of a unique population that gives us a glimpse of the might-have-been world of Japanese migrants in countries such as the United States or Australia where World War II effectively halted or even reversed the establishment of large Nikkei communities." -- Yuriko Nagata * Asian Studies Review *
"A Discontented Diaspora should be read by anyone interested in ethnicity, gender, and national identity, and should be a 'must-read' for students of the Brazilian military regime." -- Victoria Langland * The Americas *

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