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Diasporas without a consciousness: Japanese Americans and the lack of a Nikkei identity

Takeyuki Gaku Tsuda

Keywords: DIASPORAS; IDENTITY; TRANSNATIONALISM; ETHNIC MINORITIES; JAPANESE DIASPORA; NIKKEI; JAPANESE AMERICANS

Some scholars have recently suggested that the concept of diaspora should be regarded as a type of identity or consciousness instead of as a transnational ethnic community. While it is undeniable that some dispersed ethnic populations identify as diasporic peoples, older “economic diasporas“ sometimes have lost their transnational social cohesion and do not have a diasporic consciousness. I illustrate this by examining the experiences of Japanese Americans, an important part of the “Japanese diaspora“ of Japanese descendants (Nikkei) sca ered throughout the Americas. Because they have become assimilated in the United States over the generations, they no longer maintain any notable diasporic identi fication with the ethnic homeland or to other Japanese descent ethnic communities in the Americas. Even when they encounter Nikkei from other countries, national cultural diff erences make it difficult for them to develop a diasporic identity as Japanese descendants with a common cultural heritage or historical experiences.

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