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Beyond Ainu StudiesChanging Academic and Public Perspectives$
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Mark J. Hudson, Ann-Elise Lewallen, and Mark K. Watson

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780824836979

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824836979.001.0001

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date: 20 September 2017

Ainu Ethnography

Ainu Ethnography

Historical Representations in the West

Chapter:
(p.25) 2 Ainu Ethnography
Source:
Beyond Ainu Studies
Author(s):

Hans Dieter Ölschleger

Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824836979.003.0002

This chapter presents the social background of early ethnographic visions of Ainu through reports and opinions produced by Western travelers and anthropologists between the sixteenth and early twentieth centuries. The impressions of Ainu people during this period were ideological constructs inextricably tied to shifts in Western political and philosophical thinking. From the notion of Ainu as Wild Man to Noble Savage to, finally, the idea of them as a social and scientific “problem,” the referent for Western ways of seeing Ainu has been an invention of the Western imagination. The historical representation of Ainu society by non-Ainu as little more than a fixed and exotic Other highlights the self-appointed authority that government officials and academics have wielded over time to define Ainu culture whilst circumventing the agency of Ainu to represent themselves.

Keywords:   social background, Ainu, Western travelers, anthropologists, Wild Man, Noble Savage, Other, Ainu culture

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