Imagined "ethnic authenticity": revisiting the construction of a research context by researcher and researched
Satoko Shao-Kobayashi (Chiba University)
Paper short abstract:
This study revisits two of my previous ethnographic studies on ethnic identity, language learning and social relationships. Focusing on a concept, “authenticity,” I closely reanalyse the way in which I engaged in the construction, interpretation and representation of the research contexts and data.
Paper long abstract:
Product of research is tied to research process -- data collection and analysis. Thus it is crucial to critically shape and reshape the type of methodological approach that a researcher employs, under what kind of assumptions, the ways she or he has an impact on the research contexts and process, and what the consequences could be. In this paper, I revisit two of my previous ethnographic studies on ethnic identity, language learning and social relationships, which I conducted as a first-generation Japanese scholar in the United States. One of the studies is series of ethnographic interviews on ethnic identity between an inter-ethnic couple, a fourth generation Japanese American woman and a 1.5 generation Korean American man. The other study is multi-site two-year ethnography about transnational Japanese high school students in English Language Development programs in California. I reanalyse the data of the two studies by utilizing in-depth discourse analysis of participants' conversation and interviews. One of the focal concepts in this study is "authenticity" -- a belief that there is an authentic and inauthentic member and language of an ethnic group. An important aspect of this concept is that it is believed and practiced by both researcher and researched. By focusing on how ethnic authenticity was interactionally imagined and practiced by participants and myself, this study critically and reflexively reveals a possible way a researcher engages in the construction, interpretation and representation of a research context and data.
Reimagining the self and the field in contemporary ethnography: insights from living and researching within and through borders