Unstable Identities in Search of Home / Latin American Japanese: Carving Out a Sense of Belonging / Podcast

This podcast is an intimate, experimental and collaborative project that ignites a conversation about what it means to inhabit an embodied history of Japanese immigration to Latin America? Participants represent a broad set of perspectives, and share their ruminations about the history, culture and lived experiences of the diasporic Latin America Japanese community across Mexico, Japan, the UK, Brazil and the US. Through this medium, we cultivate a shared understanding and accountability about our positions on this subject by asking each other questions about home, family and heritage, and the ways in which we negotiate our place in a world that sometimes seems at odds with our identities, sense of agency and social participation. Ultimately, this project shows the transformative power of talking to shift perceptions in identity, liberation and the meaning of belonging, as well as to embrace new ways of seeing each other and the world. 

Co-produced by:

Noriko G. Amano Patiño Lecturer (Assistant Professor) at the Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.

Jessica A. Fernández de Lara Harada. Doctoral Candidate and Gates Cambridge Scholar at the University of Cambridge, and Editor of the Unstable Identities in Search of Home.

Héctor Flores Komatsu Playwright, Actor, Artistic Director of Makuyeika Colectivo Teatral, Fellow at Georgetown University, and recipient of the National Fund for the Culture of the Arts in México.

Márcia Lika Hattori Archaeologist. Doctoral candidate and Marie Slodowska Curie Fellow at the Spanish National Research Council, Spain – Incipit – CSIC.

Marco A. Jano Ito Energy Projects Leader at the Mario Molina Center and Part-time Lecturer at the School of Chemistry, National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

Naomi Tokumasu Translator and Sociolinguist. PhD candidate in Language and Information Sciences at The University of Tokyo, Japan.

Jose Taro Zorrilla Takeda Architect, Director of Restaurant KINTARO, Subdirector of NPO Fundación Paisaje Social A.C.

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Special thanks to: Taro Zorrilla for completing the edition of this podcast, to Cristóbal Castellanos for his technical support, and to all the people who generously gave us permission to draw on their stories.

This is one of five pieces in the cluster Unstable Identities in Search of Home. The series is edited by Jessica A. Fernández de Lara Harada. In collaboration with academics, artists and practitioners working across diverse interdisciplinary fields, it explores how identities that do not fit established paradigms can be given expression, and how our experiences and creativity can shape this process. Explore the other pieces for this series here.

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Jessica A. Fernández de Lara Harada
Jessica A. Fernández de Lara Harada is a Ph.D. candidate and Gates Cambridge scholar at the University of Cambridge. Her research focuses on the experiences of Mexicans of Japanese descent of mestizaje (the racial mixture discourse of national identity in Latin America). Her research interests include transpacific migrations, nation-state formation, and race and ethnic relations in Mexico.
Taro Zorrilla
Taro Zorrilla is an Architect and Artist. Graduated from the School of Architecture at Waseda University in Japan, under the guidance of the architect Osamu Ishiyama. Participant of the first Architecture Triennial in Lisbon, Portugal (2007) in the Mexico pavilion, with the work Dream House, an exploration of homes built in Mexico thanks to money transfers, photographs, sketches, and blueprints sent to their places of origin by immigrants located in the United States. Also participated in the exhibition Citámbulos at the National Museum of Anthropology and History. He completed the architectural project for the cultural center ESPACIO JAPÓN, an annex to the Embassy of Japan in Mexico, as part of the commemoration of 400 years of friendship between Mexico and Japan. Founder and subdirector of Nonprofit Organization, Fundación Paisaje Social A.C.
Naomi Tokumasu
Naomi Tokumasu is Translator and Sociolinguist. PhD candidate in Language and Information Sciences at The University of Tokyo, Japan.
Marco A. Jano Ito
Marco A. Jano Ito is the Energy Projects Leader at the Mario Molina Center in Mexico City and is also a part-time lecturer at the School of Chemistry of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). Marco has worked for more than 10 years in the energy sector of Mexico and his research work has focused on the economic and technical modelling of low-carbon alternatives for the energy and industrial sectors. Marco is currently working on decarbonisation pathways for Mexican states and the evaluation of green hydrogen as an innovative solution for climate change mitigation. Marco holds a Ph.D. degree in Land Economy (Environmental Economy and Policy) from the University of Cambridge and an MSc degree with Distinction in Advanced Chemical Engineering from Imperial College London.
Héctor Flores Komatsu
Héctor Flores Komatsu is an international theatre director, playwright and actor. Currently, he is Artistic Director of Makuyeika Creativo Teatral and a fellow at the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics with Georgetown University. HFK founded Makuyeika after a year-long theatrical search across Mexico’s indigenous communities conducted as an inaugural member of the Julie Taymor World Theatre Fellowship. His work has performed across cities and villages in México, Chicago, New York, China, Germany, Chile, and more. Original creations: "Andares'', "The Game, or the eternal rematch (based on the Popul Vuh)" and the upcoming "Ix-kik: Blood, moon, sister." He received his BFA in Theatre Performance (Directing) from the University of Michigan, and has trained with the Suzuki Company of Toga, Japan.
Noriko G. Amano Patiño
Noriko G. Amano Patiño is a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) at the University of Cambridge. Her research primarily focuses on understanding the sources and implications of different dimensions of inequality across genders and racial groups. Her ongoing research projects include analyzing the effects of affirmative action in the workplace on workers’ outcomes; quantifying the roles of firms wage-setting decisions on the life-cycle gender wage gap; and studying the heterogeneous impacts that the Covid-19 lockdown measures have had on research productivity, among others. Prior to joining the faculty of Economics at Cambridge, she obtained her Ph.D. at Yale University in 2018.