Ann-elise Lewallen, "The Fabric of Indigeneity: Ainu Identity, Gender, and Settler Colonialism in Japan" (U New Mexico Press, 2016)

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The Fabric of Indigeneity: Ainu Identity, Gender, and Settler Colonialism in Japan (University of New Mexico Press) is a recent addition to the growing scholarship on Ainu identity and settler colonialism in Japan.

Combining ethnographic fieldwork in contemporary Ainu communities and organizations with museum and archival research, Dr. Lewallen shows how Ainu women engage in the “self-craft” of identities and cultural viability through clothwork. Through the embodied ancestral knowledge of clothwork, Ainu women are able to transition from “being Ainu” to “becoming Ainu,” empowering themselves through the “semiotic weight” of cloths in the face of state regulation and assimilation campaigns.

Dr. Lewallen argues in this book that, using cultural production as an idiom of resistance against Japanese settler colonialism, Ainu women have enabled network-building with indigenous women globally, however challenging Japanese and Eurocentric models of feminist discourses via an indigenous Ainu feminism at the same time.

Ann-elise Lewallen is Associate Professor, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara

Daigengna Duoer is a PhD student at the Religious Studies Department, University of California, Santa Barbara. Her dissertation researches on transnational and transregional networks of Buddhism connecting twentieth-century Inner Mongolia, Manchuria, Republican China, Tibet, and Imperial Japan.

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