Recovering Heritage and Homeland: Ethnic Revival Among Fourth-Generation Japanese Americans

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Abstract

In recent years, fourth-generation Japanese American youth have been attempting to recover their ethnic heritage and reconnect with their ancestral homeland. This ethnic revival is a response to their continued racialization as "Japanese," which has caused them to become concerned about their overassimilation to American society in an era of multiculturalism where cultural heritage and homeland have come to be positively valued. As a result, they are studying Japanese, majoring in Asian studies, living in Japan as college exchange students, and participating in Japanese taiko drum ensembles in local ethnic communities. Although this return to ethnic roots is a more serious commitment than the symbolic ethnicity observed among white ethnics in the past, it indicates that ethnicity remains involuntary for racial minorities, even after four generations. The case of later-generation Japanese Americans demonstrates that cultural assimilation does not preclude the continuation and active production of ethnic difference.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)600-627
Number of pages28
JournalSociological Inquiry
Volume85
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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