Doing Violence to Buraku History

Minderheiten in Japan: Ainu, Buraku, Ryukyu people, Koreans
Source: The Asia-Pacific Journal | Japan Focus Volume 19 | Issue 9 | Number 9 | Article ID 5597 | May 01, 2021
Mit freundlicher Erlaubnis von Japan Focus

Doing Violence to Buraku History:
J. Mark Ramseyer's Dangerous Inventions

By Timothy Amos, Maren Ehlers, Ann McKnight, David Ambaras, Ian Neary

We are researchers with strong concerns about J. Mark Ramseyer’s (hereafter JMR) article “On the Invention of Identity Politics: The Buraku Outcastes in Japan.”1 We are active in various disciplines and have published work on aspects of Buraku history and literature, as well as the history of slums, deviance, and marginality. The article comprises one part of a larger body of writing by JMR in recent years that has been critiqued and refuted for its misrepresentations of sources, which have in turn created larger historiographic misunderstandings that reproduce discrimination against Burakumin.2 At the same time we raise these questions, in Japan, scholars and representatives of the Buraku community have openly rejected the author’s writings on Burakumin, including this 2019 article. They have specifically questioned his research methods; his use (and abuse) of evidence; his characterizations of people, problems, and processes; and the validity and truthfulness of his various claims about (1) the status of pre-modern Buraku occupations and social mobility, (2) the origins and nature of the Suiheisha, the first nationwide Buraku social movement, and (3) the character and impact of government Dōwa subsidies on Buraku communities since the 1960s.3

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