Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Laura Spielvogel

Second Advisor

Dr. Robert Ulin

Third Advisor

Dr. Ann Miles

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


When Japanese immigrants arrived in Brazil in the beginning of the 20th century, they recognized, for the first time, that they were "Japanese" and different from other ethnic people since it was rare for them to meet ethnically foreign people in Japan. In the ethnically and linguistically foreign country of Brazil, the Nikkei have had to constantly redefine their identity by resisting and accommodating dominant pressures and ideologies such as the Brazilian assimilation policies before and during the Second World War as well as the essentialist ideology of Nihonjinron (what it means to be Japanese). As a result of globalization, Nikkei in contemporary Brazil have had increasingly more contact with Japanese people from/in Japan as well as information and goods from Japan. This increased contact with Japan has made the Nikkei realize that they are not only different from the Brazilians but are also different from Japanese in Japan. In spite of this fact, some Nikkei attempt to recreate their image of Japan and what it means to be Japanese for reasons of nostalgia and in order to benefit from the positive image of the Japanese and Nikkei in Brazil, while at the same time other Nikkei feel negative about the oppressive and idealized notion of Japaneseness. Nikkei identity depends on both historical factors and individual life experiences.

Included in

Anthropology Commons