Consanguinity as Capital

Japanese-Filipino Children in the Philippines

Author: Fiona Seiger


This paper examines the material dimensions of ethnic identity claims by Japanese-Filipino children (JFC) in the Philippines and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) advocating on their behalf. Most Japanese-Filipino clients of NGOs in the Philippines were raised by their Filipino families with little knowledge of their Japanese fathers and little or no lived experience of Japan. Although these children and young adults are often called "multi-cultural" by NGO workers, they frequently grow up with no connection to Japan other than an awareness of their Japanese parentage and Japanese cultural products equally accessible to most Filipinos. I argue that filiation can be leveraged to gain access to resources not only through the legal implications that are provided by biological relationships, but also through symbolically salient claims for belonging to a nation or people by virtue of descent. This consanguineal capital should primarily be understood in politically symbolic terms, mobilized in processes of claims-making and based on notions of "blood" and belonging and their frequent conflation with ethnicity.

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© 2002 ILO/Crozet M.