Japan's attempt to project to the world an image of solid middle-class national identity is challenged by the Burakumin, an outcaste group of indigenous Japanese citizens who have been subjugated for centuries to political, economic, and religious discrimination. In the 1960s the efforts of this group and its supporters led to a 40-year national program of economic aid and educational programs designed to move these people out of poverty and increase life options. These programs, recently terminated, have left the Burakumin and other marginalized groups uncertain of their future. Based on ten years of ethnographic inquiry, Gordon's book explores the views of educators and activists caught in this period of transition after having their lives and careers shaped by the political demands of a liberation movement dedicated to achieving educational equity for the Burakumin and their disadvantaged neighbors. Gordon provides the context of the efforts to achieve the human rights of the Burakumin and the complexity of their identity in a Japanese society struggling with economic and demographic globalization.
“Gordon’s work is interesting and informative. She offers much-needed insight into the subject. … Japan’s Outcaste Youth adds to a growing body of new research on buraku issues, and with the voices of teachers, helps to fill a void in this field. It sets ambitious goals, contributes to our understanding of what is happening on the ground with these dedicated teachers and their students. The work would be helpful to those interested in comparative human rights education and would be a good text for an undergraduate course in education.”