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

Politics of Representation ―― Special reference to indigenous or minority populations in the globalizing world

Joint Research Coordinator KUBOTA Sachiko

Reserch Theme List


indigenous/minority, arts & crafts, neo-liberalism


The focus of this research is on a variety of settings that symbolize the position of indigenous and minority peoples in the mainstream societies in which they are subsumed. Such minorities/indigenous produce art, crafts, textiles and clothing, bring them to market, and sometimes attract international attention. We find that while treating these products as symbols provides economic benefits to minorities/indigenous and elevates their status, it also increases the pressure on them for authenticity, and commercialization may weaken their products as symbols. The politics of representation surrounding material symbols involves not only the response of minorities/indigenous to mainstream societies and the global community; it is also closely linked to multilayered social circumstances, including globalization and neoliberalism. This joint research project explores political trends from a local perspective, examining how they affect for the lived reality of indigenous and minority lives and clarifying concretely how they influence relationships between mainstream society and minority/indigenous communities.