The National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) is a research center for ethnology and cultural anthropology.

What is “Political Identity”? Indigenous Mobilization as Liberation Movement

Joint Research Coordinator OTA Yoshinobu

Reserch Theme List


The objective of this joint research, through academic investigations carried out by cultural anthropologists with researchers in neighboring disciplines, is to elucidate the phenomenon of the politicization of identity that has accompanied globalization.

Factors especially critical today in understanding this phenomenon of the politicization of identity are the existence or absence of groups with a distinct identity, colonial rule, the process of formation of new nation states in areas which have sloughed off colonialism, as well as the subsequent forces exerting pressure for change to the systems within a nation state. The perspectives of liberation movements will probably be effective here. In the sense that it is politics (nation-state system) that leads to the creation of nations, the identity that works for the nation is political, but we can draw a distinction here between the cultural identity formed of common culture, language traditions shared by a people and the economic identity of classes and other categories forged by its market history. In the cases for Africa, there has been a legacy of colonial rule and massacres, as well as a history of liberation movements directed against apartheid and racial discrimination. We need to draw from this history in constructing a new perspective for understanding the movements of indigenous peoples throughout the world.