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Hegemony of Homogeneity
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Much of the misunderstanding by foreigners about Japan arises out of their acceptance of certain stereotypes about the Japanese. Harumi Befu spearheaded the critique of the stereotypical and the essentialized characterization of the Japanese and their culture, often referred to as Nihonjinron. He now presents his summary statements in this book by reviewing the whole gamut of the Nihonjinron literature, ranging from ecology, rural community structure, personality, language, values and ethos. He shows the roles Nihonjinron plays for the identity formation of the Japanese and as the idealized norm of the society in orienting the public. Elaborating on the way in which Nihonjinron functions as a civil religion, the book outlines how a period of positive self-identity has alternated with a period of negative self-identity since the Meiji period.
About Editors and Authors
BEFU Harumi was born in Los Angeles, USA, in 1930. He spent his youth in Japan and returned to the United States after World War II. He graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and received a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin. He retired after teaching at Stanford University for 30 years and became Emeritus Professor at that institution. From 1996 to 2000, he was also Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Kyoto Bunkyo University in Japan. He is an internationally renowned pioneer in the field of Japanese studies.
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