Definition and Cultural Representation of the Category Mushi in Japanese Culture

in Society & Animals
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Abstract

In this essay, I attempt to define the 'ethnocategory' mushi (insects, larvae, small animals) in Japanese culture, through a semantic analysis of the Chinese characters bearing the radical "mushi," and fieldwork research in rural Japan. The research offers criteria for an animal's inclusion in the category, reveals the differences in people's perception of mushi according to age and gender, and elicits a structure of the category as a series of concentric circles around a semantic core. The richness and complexity of the findings provide insight into Japanese attitudes towards animals and nature.

Definition and Cultural Representation of the Category Mushi in Japanese Culture

in Society & Animals

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