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International Seminar Series: “Not Just Ethnicity, But Global Pressure: Cultural Maintenance of Japanese Transnational Migrants and their Descendants in Brazil”

Wednesday, October 17th 2018
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Event Description

Title of Presentation: Not Just Ethnicity, But Global Pressure: Cultural Maintenance of Japanese Transnational Migrants and their Descendants in Brazil

Speaker: Dr. Nobuko Adachi

Presentation Overview: It is impossible today for any nation to isolate itself in the international political economy. Transnational migrants do not move out from their homelands and form ethnic networks or ethnic enclaves in a new nation without being influenced by such global movements. I look at how and why Japanese and their children in Brazil have developed strategies for survival and success using their “ethnic capital.” These Japanese have passed their culture on to their children for several generations. Many rural Japanese Brazilian have maintained their ancestral Japanese language as well, despite the fact that people of Japanese descent in most other nations—in an effort to assimilate quickly into host societies—have often lost their language fluency and traditional cultural practices. Currently, there are over one and a half million people of Japanese descent living in Brazil. Some of them, who live in farm areas in southern Brazil, still keep the culture and language that their ancestors brought from Japan. This lecture explores the fundamental reason for this maintenance. I will ask, Why did Japanese immigrants decide to come in the first place? What awaited them upon arrival? Why have they desired to maintain their Japanese culture, and why have they been more successful at it than other Brazilian minorities? Why do they feel the need to do so even after a being in Brazil for over a century? I believe answers to these questions will help us understand immigration in the United States today.

Speaker Bio: Dr. Nobuko Adachi is professor of Anthropology at Illinois State. She holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Toronto (Canada), a Master’s of Arts in Anthropology from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Nihon University (Japan). Dr. Adachi’s research interests include Asian American studies; diaspora theory; transnational migrations in cultural, political, and economic contexts (especially Japanese immigration to the United States, Canada, Brazil, and Peru), Japanese and Koreans in the former USSR; race and racism, ethnic identity; minorities, justice, and injustice; sociolinguistics (language and power, language change, language death and language maintenance, language shift, pidgins, code-switching, foreigner talk, and bilingualism.

Series Overview: The International Seminar Series offers the Illinois State campus and Bloomington-Normal communities weekly opportunities to learn about a wide range of international topics. Guest speakers are usually experts in their fields across a range of disciplines who cover a wide array of cultural, historical, political and social topics.

Series events have become one of the most popular internationally focused events on campus and continue to draw ever-growing crowds of students, faculty and community members. Audience members are given time at each event to raise questions to enable a two-way participation and learning.

International Seminar Series events are free and open to the public, and occur every Wednesday from noon to 1 p.m. in the Bone Student Center. The fall 2018 series will focus on immigration.

If you will need special accommodations, please contact the event organizer.


Office of International Studies and Programs
(309) 438-5276


Bone Student Center
200 N. University Street
Normal, IL
Prairie Room North & Center
(309) 438-4636