The Ainu - a Japanese minority people
Professor Refsing, Kirsten (Principal investigator)
Professor Kabanoff (Co-Investigator)
RGC General Research Fund (GRF)
HKU Project Code
General Research Fund (GRF)
The Ainu are the only indigenous ethnic minority people in Japan, and they have always fascinated both Western and Japanese scholars, because their language and culture is quite different from the Japanese, yet apparently not closely related to any others in the north eastern corner of Asia. On the island of Hokkaido there are about 25,000 Ainu, but in spite of revival attempts in recent years, their civilisation is threathened by extinction. The present project comprises four parts: (1) an analysis of earlier research done by Western scholars on the Ainu (combined with a reprint programme undertaken by Curzon Press to make this - often nearly inaccessible - material available to researchers); (2) a monograph on one of the most productive researchers of the Ainu ever, the British missionary John Batcherlor (1854-1944), and a revaluation of his contributions; (3) translation and analysis of Ainu orally transmitted folk tales, recorded by myself from a now deceased Ainu woman; (4) translation and analysis of texts recorded by Nicolai Nevski (1892-1937) - in cooperation with A. Kabanoff, St. Petersburg.