Fluidity and diversity of Japanese communities in London
This paper explores the reality of ‘Japanese communities’ in London and the interrelation between language and identity. First, we trace the history of the Japanese community to around the beginning of the Meiji Era (1868–1912), when Japan emerged from national isolation. We then focus on one of the ‘communities’ established around the start of the 21st century by work-related and independent relocation. We present the life stories of two women who independently resided in London and shed light on the fluid nature of language maintenance and negotiation of identities. Through the close analysis of these personal experiences, we elucidate the complex reality of individuals who may be otherwise collectively understood as members of Japanese communities. These stories highlight the heterogeneity of the Japanese individuals in London, and therefore lead us to question the discursively constructed images of the ‘Japanese communities’- and the nature and importance of ‘language maintenance’.
Keywords: diversity, fluidity, Japanese community, identity, heritage language
Published online: 29 October 2020
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