Uchi/Soto in Japan: A Global Turn
Abstract: This essay presents a method for reconsidering identities linked to place and the rhetoric used to construct them. Drawing from Jane Bachnik’s “uchi/soto dynamic: and Kaori Chino’s study of Tang-dynasty Chinese art’s place in early Japanese regional identity, it introduces a theory of inside-outside positionalities for engaging the meaning-making potential within tropes of inside-outside, foreign-local, and traditional-modern. This theory building is followed by a reading of the “invented tradition” (Hobshawm) of the Japanese Christmas cake, one of many symbols through overt reference to a supposed foreign origin and from less overt citation of older Japanese traditions—while marked as coming from “outside” local culture, the Christmas cake has strong local meanings specific to Japan, meanings unfamiliar in the cake’s supposed place of origin. While this essay focuses meaning-making in Japan inside-outside positionalities functions broadly as a comparative methodology for rhetorical study.