The British Media and its Representation of the Japanese

Earlier this month I was involved with the fifth event in the Cardiff-Japanese Lecture Series, this time with Professor Perry Hinton (University of Warwick). This was an engaging webinar and had things that will be useful for my update to Japan: The Basics and my work on Visual Packaging Culture. There were even some bits that made me think further about doing some research related to “You Only Live Twice” if I don’t do that with one of the two previous projects. The webinar is now available on YouTube.

The abstract for the webinar was as follows:

Since the Portuguese first arrived there in the 16th century, Japan has been perceived by Europeans as a strange and exotic place, leading to the Japanese being characterised in Western texts, for over five hundred years, through representations of difference. In the 20th century, these representations have often involved the use of particular stereotypes of the Japanese, related to Western perceptions of them, ranging from anxiety to admiration, within specific historical and intercultural contexts. It is argued in this presentation that this is often still the case in the 21st century. Indeed, British media reports about Japan will be examined to illustrate the modern stereotyping of the Japanese. Taking a cultural psychological perspective, it is argued that stereotypes arise within a cultural context, and often reveal more about the people doing the stereotyping that the people being stereotyped. Indeed, British media representations of the Japanese may tell us more about British hopes and anxieties with respect to the Japanese, rather than anything relevant about a distinct Japanese mentality or character.

Professor Perry Hinton
is a cultural psychologist in the Department of Applied Linguistics, University of Warwick. He has degrees from Warwick and Birkbeck (London), and a doctorate from the University of Oxford on cognition and language. He has worked at a number of British universities: teaching on psychology degrees, and on interdisciplinary programmes in culture and media, as well as taking on senior management roles.  His research focuses on the relationship between culture and cognition.

His recent book, Stereotypes and the Construction of the Social World, 2020, challenges the Western academic view that stereotypes are a form of mental “error” and he proposes a cultural model of stereotypes, which is better able to explain the research data than the current cognitive approach. He has also written a number of research articles about Western representations of the Japanese. While knowledgeable about Japanese history and culture, his primary interest is in the intercultural contexts in which various Western stereotypes of the Japanese have emerged. Hence, he considers himself more of an expert of Western perceptions of Japan than on Japan itself. He is currently working on his next book, Japan and the Western Imagination, to be published in 2023.

Here is a link to the recording of the webinar:

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