We analyze dynamic linguistic power negotiations in increasingly diverse Japanese contexts, such as the media, schools, courtrooms, and language activism, and in doing so, we seek to provide theoretical refinement and ethnographic clarification of the working of language and power.
We analyze how power relationships are negotiated and shifted through language in increasingly diverse Japanese contexts where people in class, ethnic, gendered, and regional peripheries challenge the still powerful monolingual ideologies of Standard Japanese. To demystify the powerful modernist language ideology, it is not enough, as Inoue (2006), our panel discussant, observes, simply to describe the diversity of linguistic practices; rather, one must examine the dynamic linguistic and social negotiations among the dominant and subordinate groups in diverse "sites (Silverstein 1998)" for ideological struggles. This is what we will undertake, based on extensive ethnographies, interviews and document analysis. The first session seeks to develop theories of language and power by elucidating power struggles over dialects and honorifics: how different beliefs about language collide (Kroskrity 2009) among language revitalization movements in the Ryukyus and among the media and other agents developing policies to simplify honorific language used for the imperial family, and how unequal power relationships play out over the use of dialects in regional courtrooms among judges, lawyers, and defendants. The second session explores the intricacies of gendered and ethnic power constructions at school through longitudinal ethnographies and in-depth conversational analysis: how girls and boys negotiate their language ideologies through their creative, gender-crossing pronouns; how teachers and students negotiate their linguistic power relationships at a Muslim school; and how teachers exercise covert power over ethnic minority in a JSL classroom. These presentations combine to deliver both theoretical refinement and ethnographic clarification of the working of language and power.