Nissan Seminar: De Moda Novoétnica: A Comparative Ethnographic Examination of Self-Styling between Indigenous Forums of Lequio and Brazil

Convener(s): Professor Sho Konishi and Dr Mateja Kovacic

Speaker(s): Professor Hiroshi Aoyagi, School of Asia 21, Kokushikan University, Tokyo

Presentation Abstract:

In this presentation Aoyagi will examine an omnipresent cultural practice among the young indigenous people of two spatially distant cultural zones – Lequio (Okinawa) and Brazil (esp. Amazonia) – to hybridize their ethnic motifs with postures resembling vogue in order to classify their glocal mode of being. Parts of his Aoyagi’s ethnographic investigation will be introduced in combination with theoretical reflections on “new ethno-episteme,” initially proposed by John and Jean Comaroff as a new mode of projecting ethnic knowledge in anthropology in order to comparatively explore with members of the audience how realistically one can associate the new mode of self-stylization with ethnic empowerment and cultural reproduction in postcolonial social settings. Taking into account opinions of native elders who expressed their concerns about the deformation of ethnic heritage, Aoyagi will also demonstrate his sense of scepticism against easily granting the new ethnic fashion with the title which signifies cultural re-appropriation (if not re-authentication).

(Keywords: neoethnic fashion, new ethnological episteme, indigeneity, cultural hybridity, indigenous peoples of Lequio and Brazil).


Presenter Profile:

Hiroshi Aoyagi is a cultural anthropologist with ethnographic foci on Japanese- and relevant Asian popular cultures as well as social movements. He currently holds a professor position at the School of Asia 21 of Kokushikan University. In 2005, Aoyagi published Islands of Eight Million Smiles: Idol Performance and Symbolic Production in Contemporary Japan as a monograph from Harvard Asia Centre, which was based on his primary fieldwork in Japanese entertainment industry (1994-2005). His more recent publications include ‘When erotic meets cute: erokawa and the public expression of female sexuality in contemporary Japan’ (2017, co-authored with Shumin Yuen), which was included in East Asian Journal of Popular Culture (2/1: 97-109) as part of a special issue on cute studies. The current presentation is an outcome of his latest intellectual venture to tackle the idea of ethnicity on his way to regress back to his original anthropological interest in indigeneity.