Latin American & Asian Connections: Transnational Migrations Between Brazil And Japan – Special Lecture, Film Screening, And Panel Discussion For Educators

Latin American & Asian Connections: Transnational Migrations Between Brazil And Japan -- Special Lecture, Film Screening, And Panel Discussion For Educators

Thursday, October 1, 2009 - 5:30pm to 7:00pm
Room 102, Linsly-Chittenden Hall, 63 High Street, New Haven, CT See map
63 High Street
New Haven, CT 6511

This event is free and open to the public.

*All teachers who would like to receive up to 0.4 CEUs can bring cash (exact change) or a check made out to “Yale University” in the amount of $5.00.

Did you know that Brazil is home to the largest Japanese population outside of Japan? While the first Japanese immigrated to Brazil over a century ago, since the late 1980s, there has been an interesting trend in return migration to Japan. Dekassegui is a term used in Latin American cultures to refer to ethnic Japanese people who have migrated to Japan, having taken advantage of Japanese citizenship and immigration laws to escape from economic instability in South America. Come enjoy an evening of dialogue and exchange to examine the history of immigration between Brazil and Japan and issues related to diasporas and ethnic return migration. First, Professor Takeyuki (Gaku) Tsuda (Arizona State University) will provide the broader historical background to help place current events in a larger context to help educators consider ways of introducing such topics in the classroom. The lecture will be followed by an introduction and screening of the new documentary film “From Brazil to Japan” with Directors Aaron Litvin and Ana Paula Hirano Litvin. A question and answer panel discussion, moderated by Professor Karen Nakamura (Yale University), will follow the screening.


5:30 – 6:15 PM
Takeyuki (Gaku) Tsuda, Associate Professor of Anthropology, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University

6:15 – 6:30 PM
INTRO TO FILM BY DIRECTORS, Aaron Litvin and Ana Paula Hirano Litvin

6:30 – 8:30 PM
SCREENING OFFROM BRAZIL TO JAPAN” (DVD, Japanese and Portuguese with English Subtitles)

8:30 – 9:00 PM
Moderated by Karen Nakamura, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and East Asian Studies, Yale University


From Brazil to Japan is a transnational film project that documents the personal trajectories of Brazilian migrants (dekassegui) on both sides of the Pacific. Since the late 1980s, more than 300,000 Brazilians have gone to Japan to work, forming a wave of migration that has had a profound social and economic impact on both countries. This documentary accompanies five different families of Brazilian migrants over the course of three years, from their preparation for departure in Brazil to their adaptation to life and work in Japan. The migrants, in expressing their hopes and experiences, provide their own narrative. The documentary, filmed from May 2006 to May 2009, puts a personal face on a major social phenomenon. The directors of the project are Aaron Litvin and Ana Paula Hirano Litvin, both graduates of the University of São Paulo.

This film project benefits from the cooperation of the Brazilian Society for Japanese Culture (Sociedade Brasileira de Cultura Japonesa), the Center for Information and Support for Workers Abroad (Centro de Informação e Apoio ao Trabalhador no Exterior), and the Japanese Consulate in São Paulo, all of which have provided support and authorized filming for the documentary. Most of all, the film is made possible by the cooperation and enthusiasm of those who have agreed to share their experiences as Brazilian dekassegui migrants. For more information, please contact the directors at


Ana Paula Hirano Litvin graduated from the University of São Paulo in Economic Sciences. Her research focused on transformations in the world of labor, including international labor migration; she also studied visual anthropology, sociology, and cinema. Ana Paula also received a Japanese Government Scholarship and studied at Sophia University in Tokyo for one year during the production of From Brazil to Japan.

Aaron Litvin has been researching Brazilian migration to Japan for the past seven years. He has given papers at numerous international conferences, including the 2006 World Congress of Sociology in Durban. A Harvard graduate, Aaron was a Fulbright Scholar in Brazil and earned an M.S. in Sociology from the University of São Paulo with a thesis entitled “The Social and Economic Adaptation of Brazilian Migrants in Japan.” During the production of From Brazil to Japan, Aaron spent 18 months in Japan as a Japanese Government Scholar and Visiting Researcher at Sophia University in Tokyo.

Karen Nakamura is Assistant Professor of Anthropology and East Asian Studies at Yale University. She received her Ph.D. in socio-cultural anthropology from Yale University in 2001. As a cultural and visual anthropologist, her research focuses on disability and minority social movements in contemporary Japan. Her monograph on deaf social movements and sign language, “Deaf in Japan: Signing and the Politics of Identity,” was published by Cornell University Press in 2006. The book was then awarded the 2008 John Whitney Hall Book Prize by the Association for Asian Studies. More recently, she has been engaged in a new project on the comparative politics of severe physical and psychiatric disabilities in the United States and Japan. Professor Nakamura has received research grants and fellowships from Yale University, the Social Science Research Council, and the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership. She is also a documentary filmmaker and photographer.

Takeyuki (Gaku) Tsuda is an Associate Professor of Anthropology in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University. After receiving his Ph.D. in anthropology in 1997 from the University of California at Berkeley, he was a Collegiate Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago and then served as Associate Director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California at San Diego. His primary academic interests include international migration, diasporas, ethnic minorities, ethnic and national identity, transnationalism and globalization, ethnic return migrants, the Japanese diaspora in the Americas, and contemporary Japanese society. His publications include numerous articles in anthropological and interdisciplinary journals as well as a book entitled Strangers in the Ethnic Homeland: Japanese Brazilian Return Migration in Transnational Perspective (Columbia University Press, 2003). He is also the editor of Diasporic Homecomings: Ethnic Return Migration in Comparative Perspective (Stanford University Press, forthcoming 2009) and Local Citizenship in Recent Countries of Immigration: Japan in Comparative Perspective (Lexington Books, 2006) and co-editor of Controlling Immigration: A Global Perspective (second edition, Stanford University Press, 2004) and Ethnic Identity: Problems and Prospects for the Twenty-first Century (AltaMira Press, 2006). He has received research grants and fellowships from the University of California (Berkeley and San Diego), Fulbright-Hays, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the Japan Foundation, and the Hewlett Foundation among others.

Sponsored by the Council on East Asian Studies at Yale University, the Council on Latin American and Iberian Studies at Yale University, and the Yale Programs in International Educational Resources (PIER)
Japan, Transregional