nl en

Focus 1+2: Identity and Difference in Japanese Society


Admission requirements

This course is for students majoring in Japanese studies (hoofdvakstudenten).


Identity is a popular topic that attracts much attention, but is also a source of many questions. What is an identity? How are identities formed? Do identities matter? How do we choose between multiple identities? In this course, we will explore existing frameworks for understanding the nature of identity, and processes of social differentiation which lead to the formation of identity and difference. We will do so by examining classic statements on the nature of different kind of identities: from class, racial and ethnic, national, gender, sexual to transnational, multi-cultural and postcolonial identities. Readings will combine theoretical readings as well as case studies in Japanese history and society (in a broad sense) to come to a better understanding of our own identities as well as the dynamics of identity and difference in Japanese society.

Course objectives

  1. To develop an understanding of key conceptualizations of identity and difference.

  2. To learn to critically assess processes of identity formation, social differentiation and inequality in Japanese society.

  3. To develop and extend skills in reading and critically assessing academic texts, to conduct independent research, write and orally present on a topic related to the course readings in an academic fashion.

Time schedule

Tuesdays 11-13 hours



Testing method

  • Participation element (attendance, participation and presentation): 30%

  • Analytical element (analytical essay of 1,000-1,500 words): 20%

  • Research element (research essay, 2,000-2,500 words): 30%

  • Summative element (webpostings): 20%


Blackboard plays an essential part in this course. All important information about the course, including the syllabus, course requirements, and other information, except for the course readings, will be available on the course website. As part of class participation, students will also be required to make weekly postings on the Blackboard website. Internet access is therefore essential in order to complete this course.

Reading list

To be announced.



Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.


Dr. A. Ezawa,