EASA, 2010: EASA2010: Crisis and imagination

Maynooth, 24/08/2010 – 27/08/2010

(W061)

East Asian imaginings: (trans)national scenarios and global crisis

Location Arts Classhall B
Date and Start Time 25 Aug, 2010 at 11:30

Convenors

Blai Guarné (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona) email
Paul Hansen (Hokkaido University) email
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Long Abstract

In recent years the notion of crisis (e.g., social, political, ecological and financial) has become a well established discursive framework; one that has come to be utilized to further our understanding of changing realities in a globalized world. We have accepted that the world is undergoing a series of global 'shake ups'; and that this shuffling objectively affects our shared everyday realities - articulated in both personal and collective narratives from the micro to the macro level. The world we are left with in the context of 'crisis' has reshaped our ideas of wealth and health, hope and happiness, through different practices of safety, trust and confidence.

However, while there is a common denominator underpinning these ideas in terms of crisis, such demarcations are signified through specific spaces and realities of threats, challenges and changes. This has lead us to understand that these notions of crisis are 'global imaginings' reconfigured in (trans)national scenarios. That is to say, such imaginings are not universal but must be socially, politically and historically situated. This workshop invites researchers to widely explore these 'imaginings' in the context of East Asia, through the ethnographic analysis of initiatives, formulations, discourses and practices that emerge as possible or indeed, even as improbable, strategies to deal with the changing contexts of global crisis.

Discussant: Joy Hendry (Oxford Brookes University)

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

East Asian imaginings of crisis: an introductory approach

Author: Blai Guarné (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)  email
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Long Abstract

This overview paper is an introduction to the workshop and its approach to the notion of "crisis" as a particular discursive framework for the understanding of changing contexts in a globalized world. In recent years, we have accepted that the world is undergoing a series of global "shake ups" which critically affects our everyday realities. The world we are left with in the context of "crisis" (e.g., social, political, ecological, and economic) has reconfigured the ideas of wealth and health, hope and happiness at a global scale. Although there is a common denominator in terms of crisis, such ideas are signified through different practices of safety, trust and confidence within specific realities of threats, challenges and changes. Through ethnographic analysis of East Asian societies, the workshop will explore those changing notions of crisis as "global imaginings" that must be socially, politically, and historically situated in (trans)national scenarios.

Hokkaido dairy farm: creation of a food safety and security crisis

Author: Paul Hansen (Hokkaido University)  email
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Long Abstract

Japan's Hokkaido region is popularly known as 'Milkland' underscoring the importance of the dairy industry. However production costs in Japan are much higher than in surrounding nations. In order to bolster the domestic industry, for example justifying large subsidies, a constant 'State of Crisis' must be maintained. This is generally communicated in terms of food safety, security, and self-sustainability; the need to protect Japan and Japanese. However, these are not the actual causes of the crisis in Japan's dairy industry; a crisis that is both local and international in scope. Based on 19 months of ethnographic research on Hokkaido dairy farming and recent work in social theory, philosophy, and anthropology this paper addresses what the human, animal, and ecological costs are in maintaining a domestic dairy industry in Japan. This includes the treatment of migrant workers, animal welfare, and destruction of local communities and landscapes.

The formation of satoyama: towards restructuring rural societies in Japan

Author: Megumi Doshita (Tama University)  email
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Long Abstract

In Japan, rural societies have suffered from depopulation and the recession in agriculture and forestry which were an indirect result of the dynamic change of world order. These problems have led to the destruction of cultivated land, and as a result, the ideal image of rural settings, satoyama, has been abstractly developed through nationwide environmental discussions. An analysis of newspaper articles since the 1980s reveals that the term satoyama has changed from a natural setting surrounding villages to the whole set of rural environments. This has resulted in a re-valuing of rural settings and the eclipsing of problems which cannot be solved within the local context. The evaluations of national government policies and of tourism practices in Miyama, Kyoto, show that satoyama has been utilised nationally as a tourism resource in order to restructure and revitalise rural societies and that local people are tackling their problems by promoting satoyama.

Depopulation and aging: a crisis in stasis in rural Japan

Author: John Mock (Temple University Japan)  email
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Long Abstract

Much non-metropolitan Japan has been undergoing a process of depopulation and aging for more than half a century. These trends will accelerate, not diminish. Popular media in Japan is full of stories of dying towns and rural decline. Yet, the policy decisions made by the national government and prefectural governments seem to continue to privilege the metropolitan over the non-metropolitan in areas such as occupational choice, economic development, educational opportunities, transportation and communication facilities.

Based on more than a decade of fieldwork, this paper examines several small cities and rural areas in Akita Prefecture. There are many national and prefectural plans but little effective action. Perhaps effective action, by a highly centralized bureaucracy is impossible, and there needs a decentralized approach with the central bureaucracies providing only the needed infrastructure and resources and local communities make the effective decisions—an extremely shift of power away from the central bureaucracies.

Imagining Japan 2050: a multicultural scenario and Filipina migrants’ dreams

Author: Shinji Yamashita (Teikyo Heisei University)  email
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Long Abstract

What will Japan 2050 look like? By 2055 Japan’s current population of 127 million will decline to 90 million due to the low birth rate, and the number of people over sixty-five years will increase to 40 percent of the total population. This is an ultra-aged society. Within this demographic framework, there is an argument that Japan needs to “import” foreign labor force for the survival of her economy. Therefore, some presume that by 2050 Japan will have 10 million foreign residents as compared with the current 2.2 million. This leads to a scenario of Japan becoming multicultural. This paper examines the Japanese way of “living together” (kyosei) within a multicultural environment from the viewpoint of Filipina migrants who came to Japan as entertainers, who have married with Japanese men, and given birth to children of mixed descent, while hoping that these children may grow up as “ordinary” Japanese.

Global crisis across time and space: the case of elderly Sakhalin Korean repatriates in South Korea

Author: Dorota Szawarska (SOAS)  email
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Long Abstract

Global crises are temporal phenomena. They not only exist in some more or less defined period, but their repercussions spill uncontrollably beyond it, often into another crisis of another nature, in another time, and other, perhaps no longer "global", but still interconnected spaces. In my paper I consider such intermingling global and temporal crises in a transnational space, in the context of selective repatriation of Sakhalin Koreans to South Korea. Most Koreans living now on Sakhalin (Russia) are descendants of forced labourers, from the period of WW2. The repatriation programme organised in late 1990s permitted only some members of the 1st generation, that is people born up to 1945, to move to South Korea, which resulted in generations living apart from each other. I consider the strategies and imaginings Sakhalin Koreans employ in order to deal with their situation, in particular in relation to kinship, family solidarity and identity.

"Crisis, what crisis?" Chinese life inside the diaspora

Authors: Amelia Saiz-Lopez (Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona)  email
Joaquin Beltran-Antolin (Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona)  email
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Long Abstract

The Chinese diaspora node in Spain has developed along the time different strategies to cope with "crisis". In fact "crisis" is inscribed in their "normal" way of life. The dispersed transnational and translocal Chinese family is well prepared for uncertain times. Business failure, and how to surmount it, offers a good example of coping with crisis. The dense ethnic networks, strong family ties and transnational practices are working along in order to get upward mobility and economic prosperity. Chinese diaspora networks are use to confront with threads and challenges, and they are very flexible and have fast answers to accommodate to new environments.

The actual global crisis has impact on diaspora life, but at the same time give way to put at play new imaginings in accordance with their own long experience. The crisis is embedded in their deployment around the world, with as many adaptations as circumstances they find.

A crisis of asylum: Hong Kong and elsewhere

Author: Gordon Mathews (The Chinese University of Hong Kong)  email
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Long Abstract

The number of asylum seekers from South Asia and Africa has quadrupled in Hong Kong over the past two years: there is today a crisis. Some asylum seekers are fleeing political, ethnic or religious persecution, while others are seeking to make a better living. Asylum seekers may wait many years for their cases to be decided, a situation benefiting economic asylum seekers, who work, but harming political asylum seekers, who are terrified of working since they may be caught and sent home. In this paper, based on four years' fieldwork among asylum seekers in Hong Kong, I examine why they have come, how they survive, and what their future holds. I also explore global issues through Hong Kong's prism. Should economic as well as political reasons be a legitimate reason for seeking asylum? What would be the ultimate global consequences of throwing open the world's borders?

Scenarios of crises and imaginative responses in "Eden of the East" animation

Author: Artur Lozano-Méndez (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)  email
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Long Abstract

"Eden of the East" ("Higashi no Eden") is a Japanese animation series (2009, dir. Kamiyama Kenji) that has been praised for the way it addresses social issues in contemporary Japan. The plot stages a confluence of crises: a dragged social and political crisis (NEETs, gender issues, lack of leadership), identity and privacy crises (from amnesia to image recognition devices, virtual communities, configuration of national identity), and ultimately a global crisis of the consumer society model (the question of choice and the possibilities for action). Post-factual approaches to the notion of crisis are called into question too, since the agentivity and social creation of crises are highlighted. Through cultural analysis of the imaginative responses presented by a product designed for popular entertainment, this intervention aims to analyze the idea of crises as presented by different (trans)national discursive frameworks that are socially, politically and historically situated.

Mommie dearest: gender, J-horror films and their remakes

Author: Dolores Martinez (SOAS)  email
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Long Abstract

This paper looks at the way in which the heroines of three Japanese horror films that have been remade successfully as Hollywood movies represent a sense of crisis about the Japanese family. The key question is: why did these films translate so easily from the Japanese context to a US/Western one? I consider the social contexts of the wife, mother and woman in relation to the state in Japan and consider how this 'resonates' with the US case. While my approach is in the main anthropological, I will be relying on film theory as well to make my point about social similarity in relation to modernity, the family and the backlash against feminism.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.