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

Political Classification: Rethinking Ethnicity and Race from the Perspectives of the Colonized

Joint Research Coordinator OTA Yoshinobu

Reserch Theme List


ethnicity/race, political classification , critical liberalism


During the first ten years of the twenty-first century the global spread of liberalism seems to have promised an emergence of more equitable social relations in many countries; however, also produced are ideas derived from liberalism itself, reproducing in the same locations the structural inequality: political stances based on color-blindness and reverse discrimination often support status quo rather than social change.These ideas would deprive the discriminated of the ground for political contestation. At this current historical conjuncture fraught with contradictions this collaborative project aims, drawing both historical sources and ethnographic data, to think critically through liberalism from the perspectives of the dominated. By turning the gaze of conventional anthropological investigation from the colonial Other to the dominant settlers, it seeks to problematize/visualize "whiteness," a category of classification previously unproblematized/unseen, as political classification: "whiteness," in its broadest sense, might include such local terms as "Wajin [Shamo]" of the Aynu, "Naichaa (Yamato'nchu)" of Okinawa, "Haole" of the Kanaka Maori, and "Kaxlan" of the Guatemalan Maya.