Writing for The Equal Times, journalist Carmen Grau interviews Ainu leaders Fumio Kimura, Shizue Ukaji,
Having finished an undergraduate degree in Area Studies at the University of Sheffield in England, Mark Winchester took a Master’s and PhD at Hitotsubashi University in Japan. The title of his dissertation is “A History of Modern and Contemporary Ainu Intellectual Thought: With a focus on the writings of Sasaki Masao”. At present he is a lecturer at the Research Institute of Japanese Studies, Kanda University of International Studies in Chiba Japan.
In his university days in Sheffield, he was influenced by a book titled The Black Atlantic: modernity and double consciousness. Its author Paul Gilroy shed light on the contribution of the thought of Africans in the West, who were transported across the Atlantic Ocean as slaves, and the centrality of that experience to the modern civilization. Whilst preceding researchers made use of the Ainu to get ethnographic information, Mark regards the Ainu experience as essential to understanding modernity in Japan and wider North East Asia. He, thereby, appreciates that the writings of Ainu intellectuals present challenges of thought to be addressed on a global scale. In this context, it can be understood that he has been fighting against those who make hate speeches and demonstrations against the Ainu and other minorities. Don’t miss his speech titled “Backlash: Hate Speech, Indigenous Denial and Historical Revisionism in Post-DRIPS Japan” for the International Conference on Policy towards Indigenous Peoples: Lessons to be learned! in Sapporo in December.