AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 304

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Session 304: Women in Asia I

Feminism and Marxism in the All India Democratic Women's Association. A Leftist Approach to the Women’s Question in Contemporary India
Susanne Kranz, Zayed University, United Arab Emirates

This paper investigates notions of women’s activism, emancipation of women and Marxism within Indian society. It focuses on contemporary women’s movements in India, particularly on the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) which is a left-oriented women’s group that is closely associated with the Communist Party of India (Marxist). The idea is to compare an all-India organization in its regional variations in terms of activism and rhetoric. AIDWA activists support the argument that the women’s question is incorporated into the social question and the class struggle, and not distinguished as an individual aspect of gender relations. The organization is defining itself as an independent, left-oriented, Marxist women’s group which pursues as its main concern the emancipation of Indian women but refuses to be labeled feminist. AIDWA focuses in its work and publications on the destructive potential of feminism. The leftist women feel that the idea disrupts the organized women’s movement and clearly distance themselves from Western feminism, yet accept the Western idea of Marxism without much reflection. The notion of being different seems to be rooted very deeply in the consciousness of Indian women, the colonial experience of India, and their understanding of women’s emancipation. It appears that AIDWA is struggling with the idea of feminism as well as the concept of Marxism which might have to do with the ambivalence to the Western concept of feminism, the diversity of the Indian women’s movement, the diversity of Indian feminism, or the sex-blindness of Marxism itself.

Beyond the Mousmé and the Karayuki : The Commodified Bodies of Japanese Women in French Indochina
Frederic Roustan, Hitotsubashi University, Japan

The objective of this paper is to examine the physical and symbolic “commodification” of Japanese prostitutes’ bodies in Vietnam during the colonial period, by using French and Japanese sources. I pay special attention to the racialization and sexualization of women from an socio-historical point of view. Nevertheless, the issue of traffic in Japanese women will not be put aside. The “body”, as a socio-cultural construction, always reveals otherness and a fortiori identity. The bodies in question here raise interesting paradoxes because they result from the intersection of cultural, social and political representations. Firstly, the paper will take into consideration the representations of the French colonialists about Japanese prostitutes through the analysis of the phantasmatic figure of the mousmé, in administrative, medical and literary discourse, between the years 1880’s and 1920’s. Afterwards, the visual culture will also be taken into account using documents such as pictures published in the Indochinese press or books and postcards. Indeed, the analysis of the attempt by Japanese brothel keepers to put in adequacy the visual categories produced by the colonial society and the visibility of the Japanese prostitutes reveals a complex embodiment process. However, these visual and symbolic aspects of the comodification are the outcome of a physical comodification. Then, the paper will continue to look at the local actions of Japanese brothel keepers and go back up to Japan, in order to understand the specificities of the traffic in Japanese women between Japan and French Indochina inside the karayuki san phenomenon.

‘A Woman is a Woman’s Worst Enemy’: Understanding Mother-In-Law Violence in Domestic Violence Cases in India
Geetanjali Gangoli, University of Bristol, United Kingdom

The issue of violent women is one that causes considerable discomfort to feminists, and where violence is perpetrated by women on other women, the feminist dilemma is further complicated, as it reverse ideas of solidarity between women across generations and social classes. However, acknowledging and attempting to understand the vexed issue of female violence against women does not necessarily lead to anti feminist repercussions, and can feed into an analysis of how female violence against other women can perpetuate patriarchal control in some contexts. Within the Indian context, there is evidence of violent women in a variety of contexts, including most notoriously violence against young married women perpetrated by their mothers-in-law in domestic violence and dowry related cases. This paper will focus on the third case of female violence in India, and attempt to unpack criminal justice responses and discourses on mother in law violence, including legislative debates and selective case law. Mother in law violence has been chosen for three reasons: one, while women represent only 4% of the total prison population in India mothers in law are most likely to serve custodial sentences in cases of dowry related deaths. Second, even where it does not culminate in death, young Indian married women often suffer violence at the hands of their mothers in law from the point of the marriage. Third, an understanding of the varied discourses around mother in law violence can enrich debates on understanding in context discourses around representation of violent women. Submitted by Dr Geetanjali Gangoli & Dr Martin Rew

Do Women Born in Japan Readily Accept Men’s Superiority? – The Analysis of Individuals’ Culture Orientations by Birth place, Ethnicity and Gender
Claire I. Hitosugi, University of Hawaii, Manoa, USA

This study investigates the cultural orientations of students at a university in the Pacific (male 174, female 237). The subjects were from diverse ethnic backgrounds. The data was analyzed by birth place (China, Korea, Japan, Philippines, US Mainland, and Hawaii), ethnicity and gender according to Hofstede’s four culture dimensions. This study gives insight on gender differences within each group that are seldom focused on in organizational cross-cultural literature. The results show no significant difference in the collectivism/individualism across all women; regardless where women were born or what their ethnicity is, their collectivist orientations are not different. However, differences are found among men by birth place and ethnicity. Men born in China have the highest value in collectivism and have the largest mean difference with women born in China. Ethnicity is indicative of masculinity for both genders. Birth place has no effects on masculinity for men, but has effects on women. Out of six birth places, women born in Japan have the highest level of masculinity and power distance; they prefer to see men in higher position and readily accept the power differences in organizations. Uncertainty avoidance, redefined as “need for structure” in this study, is found to be a function of both birth place and ethnicity for both genders. This study gives rich theoretical and practical implications to cultural studies and suggests that culture be investigated at an individual level rather than at a national level in order to understand what is really going on within a group.

Self-Searching Migrants and Worker’s Identity :Why Japanese Women (and Men) Prolong Their Stay in Vancouver
Etsuko Kato, International Christian University, Japan

Self-searching, or jibun-sagashi, is a cliché in Japanese society today. In addition, Japanese “self” tends to be identical to her/his work. This paper discusses thousands of Japanese sojourners in Canada, especially in Vancouver, in their late 20s, 30s and 40s, many of whom prolong their stay “just to work”, then wish to immigrate “to work” in the country. Canada often provides Japanese youth with a blurred self-view between a visitor and a settler because of Working Holiday program, which facilitates the young people’s stay both as a holiday maker and a worker. This paper especially focuses on: 1) Why young people of an industrialized country leave their jobs and go overseas wishing “to work” despite new disadvantages they face with as “foreign temporary workers”; and 2) Why there is a gender imbalance (80% are women) among them. Based on 10-year fieldwork, the paper elucidates both macro structures (e.g., Canada’s immigration policies, economic situations of the two countries, the Olympic Games) that surround the Japanese sojourners, and their micro-level views on job, self and life.