Yurika Tamura completed her PhD in 2013. She has taught courses on feminist theory, Asian American studies, and Japanese literature and film. Yurika's research interests include critical race theory, body and sensations, music and performance, and affect. In her dissertation project she experiments on writings on music, corporeality, and sensation.
This dissertation studies music and stage performances led by contemporary Japanese minority groups, primarily Ainu activists, from three theoretical perspectives: 1. Politics of representation, 2. The body and materiality, and 3. Philosophy of difference. Each perspective informs each chapter’s study of the soundscape and performance produced in lieu of verbal political negotiation. Posed as a project in performance studies and critical race theory, the dissertation analyzes cultural and political contexts of each performance as well as affect of the impact of performance. By addressing political situations and history minority populations in Japan, and especially since most of the chapters address the issues of contemporary Ainu indigenous struggles, this project necessarily takes postcolonial and feminist approaches that criticize Japanese imperialism, colonialism, and ideological products of other disciplinary forms of nation-building, such as the social hierarchies based on race and gender. The performances introduced in this dissertation themselves, however, take remarkably positive approaches to conceiving differences of the bodies. Rather than reverting to traditional identity politics, their performance activism seeks a new way for the various bodies and sensations to occupy shared spaces. Thus by examining their inclusive politics that is marked by avoidance of political discussions and focus on the sound elements and music sensations to activate a space of coexistence, this dissertation explores how music and bodily sensations allow us to conceive new modes of coexistence by different bodies of people. Another question this dissertation pursues is how to conceive materiality of the body while many gender and cultural studies have studied the body as signs and symbols of identity, and not a corporeal substance. By aligning with the recent theoretical movement that focuses on the material body, this dissertation engages in theorization of the body that leverages innovative conceptualizations of living with others. Finally, the dissertation proposes the concept of “Transnational Indigeneity,” an indigenous theorization that locates indigeneity outside and beyond national and racial borders and critiques such imperial exclusions and markings of bodies and the earth. The dissertation describes how transnational indigeneity is materialized in the new Ainu collaborative music scenes through the sound and sensations.