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Japanese American EthnicityIn Search of Heritage and Homeland Across Generations$
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Takeyuki Tsuda

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781479821785

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479821785.001.0001

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Performative Authenticity and Fragmented Empowerment through Taiko

Performative Authenticity and Fragmented Empowerment through Taiko

(p.225) 7 Performative Authenticity and Fragmented Empowerment through Taiko
Japanese American Ethnicity

Takeyuki Tsuda

NYU Press

For Japanese Americans, taiko provides an authentic experience of ethnic heritage even though it is not an unchanged cultural tradition that provides a direct link to an ethnic homeland or an ancient past. The remaking of traditional taiko by Japanese Americans involves a performative authenticity that demonstrates how taiko resonates with their current lives, and allows them to display ethnic and gender identities in ways that challenge demeaning stereotypes of Asian Americans. Taiko can thereby be personally empowering. At the same time, however, taiko’s reception by American audiences reinscribes Orientalizing discourses that racially essentialize Japanese Americans as the exotic Other. Therefore, taiko can also be disempowering at the collective level.

Keywords:   ethnic heritage, tradition, authenticity, taiko, performativity

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