Ainu Renaissance: Reclaiming History, Heritage, & Environment in Indigenous Japan

December 13, 2019

Amanda Nagy

Woman presenting slide show of pictures,
Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Chie Sakakibara presents in Severance Hall.
Photo credit: Yvonne Gay

Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Chie Sakakibara is a cultural geographer whose research interests lie in the field of the human dimensions of global environmental change among indigenous peoples, specifically on their cultural resilience and socio-environmental justice. 

Sakakibara gave a presentation on her research project exploring the Indigenous Ainu heritage in northern Japan. Her work, which was supported by a $10,000 research grant from the Foundation for Research & Promotion of Ainu Culture in addition to Oberlin's Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment Implementation Grant, links with a variety of topics on everyday life, materiality, and the collection of changes represented by such movements as environmental justice, cultural revitalization, and ethically and culturally appropriate ways of working with heritage resources.

Hokkaido (the northernmost main island of Japan) is Ainu’s primary homeland today after the rigorous and systematic assimilation policy imposed upon them by the Japanese government throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

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