Problems with References to Historical Documents

Minderheiten in Japan: Ainu, Buraku, Ryukyu people, Koreans
Source: The Asia-Pacific Journal | Japan Focus Volume 19 | Issue 9 | Number 4 | Article ID 5596 | May 01, 2021
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Problems with References to Historical Documents in J. M. Ramseyer, “On the Invention of Identity Politics: The Buraku Outcastes in Japan”
M. Ramseyer “On the Invention of Identity Politics : The Buraku Outcastes in Japan”における歴史研究への言及の問題点

Toriyama Hiroshi
Translation by Hirano Yuji, supervised by Komori Megumi

I consider problems in the references to the history of Buraku in J. M. Ramseyer’s article, “On the Invention of Identity Politics: The Buraku Outcastes in Japan”, published in Review of Law and Economics in 2019. As a researcher on the history of those who had been subjected to discrimination in the earlymodern era, mainly in East Japan, I would like to point out problems in the article, focusing on its references to and quotations from previous works.

The author calls the Suiheisha an organization that advocated for Buraku liberation, a “nominal human rights organization”, stating that he would trace “the creation of a largely fictive identity for Japan’s putative outcastes” and that “most burakumin are descended not from leather-workers, but from poor farmers” (1). And in chapter IV Pre-modern antecedents, he describes the history of Buraku by referring to and quoting from a number of previous works.

In the references to and quotations from the works of different Japanese researchers on the history of Buraku in this chapter, however, the author pulls out parts of the descriptions that suit his arguments ignoring their context including what these works shed light on in their totality and how they viewed the history of Buraku.

This kind of reference to previous works is, in my opinion, academically unfaithful and inappropriate. The author’s arguments, based on inappropriate references and quotations, hardly hold true. In the following, I comment on particularly problematic parts of inappropriate references to and quotations from previous works.

In his “Introduction” (30-31) to the chapter IV Pre-modern antecedents, the author states, “the vast majority of the ancestors of the modern burakumin never dealt with dead animals at all. Instead, they farmed” and quotes from Usui Hisamitsu (Usui 1991, 20): ....

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