Voice, Silence, and Self
Negotiations of Buraku Identity in Contemporary Japan
Harvard University Asia Center 2015
“You are a member of a minority group but do not know it. How is this possible?”
Christopher Bondy’s new book explores this question in a study of the making of burakumin identity in the schools and communities of young people in modern Japan. Voice, Silence, and Self: Negotiations of Buraku Identity in Contemporary Japan (Harvard University Asia Center, 2015) pays special attention to the ways that young people negotiate the silences around the issue in two communities, examining how these youth “are taught buraku issues once they enter junior high school, the tools that experience provides, and the ways in which lessons learned are carried along the life cycle, as expanding social interactions force individuals beyond their protective cocoon.” Bondy offers readers both a careful study of a particular local context and a range of tools for thinking about and with issues of identity and silencing much more broadly. It’s a powerful and sensitively-wrought account.