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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Unsettling Japanese Canadianness in Vancouver : negotiated and hybridized identity Matsumoto, Kozue


This research examines the identity construction processes and negotiations of members of the Japanese Canadian community in the Greater Vancouver area. In particular, it attempts to answer the following research questions: How do members of the Japanese Canadian community in the Greater Vancouver area construct, negotiate, and hybridize their identity in relation to their respective situations, such as people around them, their community, and the wider society? In particular, how do membership of the community and activities help construct their identity? This research looks at the concept of identity as relational, an on-going internal and external negotiation process, and hybrid based on the arguments of Bhabha (1990, 1994), Fuss (1995), Hall (1990), Nagel (1994) and Weeks (1990). This study also seeks to understand the informants’ relationships with their environment, employing the argument of Lowe (2004) and Spivak (1987) as well as the concept of the “third space” proposed by Bhabha (1990). Based on these perspectives, this research collected the identity construction stories from several Japanese Canadian community members through interviews. With a purposeful sampling strategy, the informants were selected based on their interests and engagement in the cultural and social side of the Japanese Canadian community in Greater Vancouver, and the variety of their ethnic background—in other words, the different ways of being to some extent Japanese. Based on the informants’ stories, this research argues that 1) the informants’ identities are hybrid and constructed through diverse processes and negotiations, including what they call themselves; 2) the informants and communities put efforts toward the deconstruction of “dominant” and “minority” dichotomous positioning with the combination of a sharing-oriented process and strategic essentialism; 3) community space plays a role as a third space for its members. From these arguments, this research also questions the concept of ethnicity and Canada’s multicultural policy based on ethnicity since there are many people and phenomena that cannot be explained with this concept.

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