Germany and Japan, like many other nation-states around the world, are witnessing a shift in the perception of nationhood and a renegotiation of what it means to be "German" or "Japanese". This becomes evident, for instance, among migrant communities in Japan and Germany, who may enjoy formal citizenship rights but whose ethnic, cultural, religious or linguistic needs are rarely catered to (e.g. with regard to public holidays, official information in one’s first or heritage language, diet restrictions, religiously informed rituals, political representation, etc.).
This conference serves to explore the view that religion, ethnicity and language are not stable or static phenomena in this context, but important identity-building blocks. Japan and Germany as case studies are particularly relevant since both countries have, for many decades, entertained a self-view of an "ethnically, religiously and linguistically homogeneous" society. Yet, both countries employ different approaches to the challenges of a globalizing society and an increasing influx of migrants from numerous cultural, ethnic, religious and linguistic backgrounds. In order to put the two countries’ situation into perspective, comparative cases from various regions are included in the discussion. This allows us to examine the varying roles that religion, ethnicity and language play (and have played) in the forming of nationhood across many states and societies. The conference thus seeks a fresh understanding of elements that constitute "a contemporary idea of nationhood" through an interdisciplinary and comparative orientation.
Among the speakers of the conference are internationally renowned scholars such as the socio-economist OGUMA Eiji from Keiô University, also known for his commitment to the anti-nuclear-movement, or the linguist Florian COULMAS, a regular contributor to daily newspapers on "things Japanese".
Language of the conference is English.