Nikkei Australian identity and the work of Mayu Kanamori by Timothy Kazuo Steains as part of Japan in Australia: Culture, Context and Connections, Edited by David Chapman and Carol Hayes. Steains’ chapter explores significant works in oeuvre of Nikkei Australian artist Mayu Kanamori. Works examined include Heart of the Journey, In Repose, The Cowra Ceremonial Performance, Yasukichi Murakami, and You’ve Mistaken Me For a Butterfly. Steains provides a theoretical framework for Nikkei Australian identity and experience, highlighting correlations between Asian Australian and global Nikkei identities. This project of conceptualising Nikkei Australian identity developed in response to the lack of Japanese Australian community identity. Steains highlights how Kanamori’s work reflects the many and varied forms that Nikkei Australian experience can take. In the process, we argue that ‘Nikkei Australian’ cannot be reduced to monolithic or stereotypical forms. Rather, he argues that its heterogeneity makes it a creative site for interactions between Japanese and Australian cultures and identities. While ‘Japan in Australia’ can suggest two separate entities co-existing, Steains attempts to complement this idea with the mixing and enmeshment implied by ‘Japanese Australian’ and ‘Nikkei Australian’.

Download full article (chapter 8):  Steains Nikkei Australia PDF (6.14MB)

(c) Timothy Kazuo Steains, 2019. Reproduced with permission of The Licensor through PLSclear (39034)

Japan in Australia: Culture, Context and Connections  ISBN 9780367184698 Published 2019 by Routledge

Japan in Australia is a work of cultural history that focuses on context and connection between two nations. It examines how Japan has been imagined, represented and experienced in the Australian context through a variety of settings, historical periods and circumstances.

Beginning with the first recorded contacts between Australians and Japanese in the nineteenth century, the chapters focus on ‘people-to people’ narratives and the myriad multi-dimensional ways in which the two countries are interconnected: from sporting diplomacy to woodblock printing, from artistic metaphors to iconic pop imagery, from the tragedy of war to engagement in peace movements, from technology transfer to community arts. Tracing the trajectory of this 150-year relationship provides an example of how history can turn from fear, enmity and misunderstanding through war, foreign encroachment and the legacy of conflict, to close and intimate connections that result in cultural enrichment and diversification.

This book explores notions of Australia and ‘Australianness’ and Japan and ‘Japaneseness’, to better reflect on the cultural fusion that is contemporary Australia and build the narrative of the Japan–Australia relationship. It will be of interest to academics in the field of Asian, Japanese and Japanese-Pacific studies.

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