Japanese ancestors, non-Japanese family, and community: Ethnic identification of Japanese descendants in Broome, Western Australia

Yuriko Yamanouchi

Abstract


This paper explores the ethnic identity formation of the descendants of Japanese migrants in Broome, Western Australia. From the 1880s to the 1960s, Broome had an influx of Japanese migrants seeking work in its pearl shell industry and related businesses; one of the longest continuous Japanese migrations to Australia. Although the history of Japanese migration and mixing with the locals of Broome has been researched, and descendant experiences of being ‘mixed’ been portrayed in music and the performing arts, the internal dynamics of their ‘mixedness’ has not been investigated. This paper addresses the diversity of Japanese descendant identity by focusing on the complex transmission of their Japanese identity. Case studies reveal that their sense of being a Japanese descendant is transmitted and supported not only by their Japanese ancestors and the local Japanese community, but also by non-Japanese family members and the larger Broome community, operating in the background of Broome’s rich history as part of Australia’s “polyethnic north.”

Keywords


Japanese migrants; ethnic identity; inter-ethnic relationship

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1344/co201824&25142-158

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