I am surprised that the 'Japan as homogeneous culture' paradigm is still brought out so often here, and by so many types of people. Shoichi Watanabe is a retired academic (like I am), but even I am surprised that his old students now teaching at Hirodai (called the Jochi batsu
) believe what he taught them, especially with respect to Japanese linguistics. The 'Japan as unique culture' is brought out with as a defence of continued whaling. The merit of Oguma's book (quoted to Fred in my previous post) is that he lays bare the intellectual and political process that led to the abandonment of the mixed nation theory and the adoption of the homogeneous nation theory. I suspect, however, that Oguma himself has a wistful longing for the certainties of the latter.
One interesting parallel to the concept of Nihonjinron is the concept of "blackness" within African-American discourse. There were many articles questioning if Barack Obama was "black enough," and there are quite a few books on the essential nature of black culture (some of which is of high scholarship - --- and some are not). Robert Farris Thompson, for example, in his brilliant book, TANGO, tries a physical language of dance and movement going back to the Bakongo cultures in pre-colonial times, noting that, for one example, the high-kneed strut of a drum major in American marching bands, reflects physical movements that had specific meanings.