The entrance to the Department of History’s office in Sidney Smith Hall

Re-Storying Indigenous Geographies: A Story of Urban Ainu Migration in Comparative Context

Start Date and Time:

Tuesday, March 6, 2018, 3:00PM

End Date and Time:

Tuesday, March 6, 2018, 5:00PM


Prof. Mark Watson (Concordia University)

In recent years, the task of “restorying” has been identified as an important strategy in making space for the counternarratives of the nation-state from the perspective of Indigenous histories. Here, I use four stories to start to tell a different history of Indigenous Ainu life in Japan. The stories recount Ainu experiences of migration to Tokyo and other cities since the early 1900s. Beyond their narrative content, I explain how these stories are part of a broader political project that urban Ainu leaders have used for over forty years to contest and resist the ‘regionalization’ of Indigenous Ainu affairs to Hokkaido. Using the Ainu situation as my reference point, I develop a comparative conversation about the transformation of Indigenous geographies across the Pacific and elaborate on the fraught politics but also moral value of thinking with urban mobilities. I end with reflections on an exchange between Tokyo Ainu and Montreal Inuit in Osaka in 2003 and its relevance for my current project.


  • Dr. David Chu Program in Asia Pacific Studies

Contact Information

Mayumi Yamaguchi

Asian Institute


Room 208N, North House, 1 Devonshire Pl, Toronto, ON M5S 3K7 view full map


Lectures, Seminars


Faculty, Graduate Students, Undergraduate Students

5 men in traditional dress in Tokyo
Photograph by Ui Makiko of Ainu