Studio Stefan Dotter
Women of the Sea
Tiger of Sweden
Growing up between Japan and Europe, where I lived in predominantly White envi- ronments, I often found myself unable to “fit in” in either cultures. I clung onto this identity of being Asian woman; but while it gave me great comfort and a sense of belonging, it also left me unable to see the world without categories. And yet, upon returning to Japan, that identity as an Asian woman I had held proudly for so long was largely taken away, as I now became the ordinary Japanese woman. It liberated me from racial oppression, but also left me wondering about what other minority groups are experiencing in Japan. I started looking into their stories, to let their voices be heard, as this was something that I wish someone had done for me, and diasporic others.
We, human beings, innately belong to a group since birth and our identities are constructed through our relationship to the world. But how does one’s identity form when one is unable to belong to such a group, or when one must wrestle with the historical and political meanings of one’s own ethnic background?
What Hannah Arendt, one of the most prominent political theorists of the 20th cen- tury and a survivor of Holocaust, had to say in response to her presumed “love for the Jewish people” may hint at an answer to this question. As Arendt states in a letter to Ger- shom Scholem, her friend and another renowned Jewish intellectual: “I have never in my life ‘loved’ any nation or collective — neither the German people, nor the French, nor the American, nor the working class or anything of that sort. I indeed only love my friends and I am totally incapable of all other love.”