EMERGING ISSUES IN CONTEMPORARY ASIA
A Special Seminar Series
RSVP required by Tuesday, May 7, 2019
ABSTRACT: Why have the three most salient minority groups in Japan - the politically dormant Ainu, the active but unsuccessful Koreans, and the former outcaste group of Burakumin - all expanded their activism since the late 1970s despite the unfavorable domestic political environment? My investigation into the history of the three groups finds an answer in the galvanizing effects of global human rights on local social movements. Drawing on interviews and archival data, I document the transformative impact of global human rights ideas and institutions on minority activists, which changed the prevalent understanding about their standing in Japanese society and propelled them to new international venues for political claim making. The global forces also changed the public perception and political calculus in Japan over time, catalyzing substantial gains for the minority movements. Having benefited from global human rights, all three groups repaid their debt by contributing to the consolidation and expansion of international human rights principles and instruments. The in-depth historical comparative analysis offers rare windows into local, micro-level impact of global human rights - complementing my other projects on the relationship between international human rights and local politics, which employ cross-national quantitative analyses - and contributes to our understanding of international norms and institutions, social movements, human rights, ethnoracial politics, and Japanese society.
Kiyoteru Tsutsui is Professor of Sociology, Director of the Center for Japanese Studies, and Director of the Donia Human Rights Center at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. His research on globalization of human rights and its impact on local politics has appeared in American Sociological Review, American Journal of Sociology, Social Forces, Social Problems, Journal of Peace Research, Journal of Conflict Resolution, and other social science journals. His book publications include Rights Make Might: Global Human Rights and Minority Social Movements in Japan (Oxford University Press 2018), and a co-edited volume (with Alwyn Lim) Corporate Social Responsibility in a Globalizing World (Cambridge University Press 2015). He has been a recipient of National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, National Science Foundation grants, the SSRC/CGP Abe Fellowship, Stanford Japan Studies Postdoctoral Fellowship, and other grants as well as awards from American Sociological Association sections on Global and Transnational Sociology (2010, 2013), Human Rights (2017), Asia and Asian America (2018), and Collective Behavior and Social Movements (2018).