1st Edition

Japanese-American Literature through the Prism of Acculturation

    The twentieth-century reality in the Unites States was harsh for Japanese immigrants who attempted to settle down and follow their dreams in the new land. Prejudice and discrimination against the newcomers, rife among Americans, were exacerbated by the ramifications of World War II events, including the Pearl Harbor attack, which irrevocably changed the pattern of immigrant lives. In the aftermath, internment camps that ensued became an inexorable part of their already miserable existence. The book delves not only into the painful past of the Japanese immigrants and their immediate descendants but also illustrates a wide array of Japanese customs that the immigrants brought with them as their rich cultural legacy. It also engages in discourse on acculturation and acculturation strategies adopted by the two generations. Japanese-American authors, in their fictional and non-fictional literary accounts, reveal the search for their ethnic identity and resulting tensions between their American and Japanese selves. An examination tool employed for the purpose of the study has been developed by John Widdup Berry, a cross-cultural psychologist, who has formulated acculturation theory with its strategies of assimilation, integration, separation and marginalisation. The book attempts to examine cultural attitudes (preferences) of Japanese immigrants and their offspring, and their cultural practices (reflected in acculturation strategies). It also presents the reader with a wide array of cultural aspects of life in the United States that—through the lens of acculturation strategies—reflect a rich literary matrix of intersecting sociocultural, historical and political factors inscribed in the twentieth-century reality of Japanese immigrants and their Japanese-American offspring. Engaging not only for academic professionals but also for those curious readers who long to inspect the past and its cultural interrelations through the memories of witnesses and their literary heritage they have left.


    1. Maps of Meaning and Cultural Contextualisation: Cultural Studies from a Critical Perspective

    2. Ethnic Negotiations: Japanese Americans within the Ethnic Paradigm

    3. ‘The Others’ in the American Land: Japanese Immigrants and Their Descendants through the Lens of Postcolonial Studies

    3.1. Japanese Americans and Hybrid Cultural Identities within a Liminal Space

    4. Acculturation Theory and Its Premises

    5. Evocation of the Past as a Mirror for the Present: Japanese-American Works of Literature and Their Authors

    6. Age in Cultural Contexts: Issei versus Nisei Generation Gap and Family Life

    7. Ethnic/Social Status Dichotomy: Physically Japanese, Culturally American

    7.1. Language Use and Communication

    7.2. Education

    7.3. Occupation

    8. Cultural Distance: Split Identities and Ethnic Schizophrenia. An Outward Culture Perspective

    8.1. Festival Celebrations, Customs and Cuisine

    8.2. Culture and Etiquette

    8.3. Sartorial Code

    8.4. Dance

    9. Within and beyond Assimilation: Collectivistic versus Individualistic Cultural Value Orientations. An Inward Culture Perspective

    10. Gender Paradox: Male Authority in a Matriarchal Society




    Małgorzata Jarmołowicz-Dziekońska, PhD (Faculty of Philology, University of Białystok, Poland), dedicates her research work to the relationship of literature and culture by exploring their textual intersections and mapping their locus within the matrix of the contemporary literary criticism. Her major fields of academic interest comprise ecocriticism, postcolonial and cultural studies with a focus on ethnicity and identity formation in the context of immigrant narratives.