Nobuko Adachi - Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Illinois State University
The Kubo community, home to about 80 people, was established by Japanese settlers early last century in the Brazilian forest. Since then it has remained an almost self-sufficient Japanese Brazilian commune. People farm in the day and practice modern ballet at night—an activity for which they have attained national fame and notoriety. In this presentation I will examine their dance performances as a manifestation of their cultural politics, ethnic capital, and ideology.
Since its foundation, Kubo has been based on the philosophy of Nōhon-shugi, which teaches that an understanding of nature, can only be achieved through living the life of a farmer; it also says that the individual’s spirit is developed through cultivation of the arts. But besides being an integral part of their philosophy, dance is also a means to reshape their ideology, taking in elements of both their Japanese and Brazilian cultural heritage. For example, in 1976 and 1991, these Brazilianized Japanese and their descendants were invited to perform in Japan by the Japanese government. Thus, the commune now represents Japanese-ness in Brazil, and Brazilian-ness in Japan. In other words, Kubo people are constantly reinventing their identity—using dance to reinforce socio-economic ties with their ancestral nation, Japan, as well as to reinforce their identity as Brazilians at home.