AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 442

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Session 442: Migration III

Beyond One Hundred Years: Rethinking the Place of Brazil in Japanese Studies
Seth Jacobowitz, Yale University, USA

This paper proposes a twofold reconsideration of the Nipo-Brazilian historical relationship from the perspective of colonial and post-colonial studies of the Japanese empire. First, while there are profound differences between Japan’s colonies in East Asia and what Ted Mack has called the “para-colonial” circumstance of the Japanese immigrants in Brazil, we must nevertheless re-situate the latter into a more complete picture of migration, circulation and transnational identity. Prior to the opening of the Manchurian frontier in the 1930s, Brazil was the preferred destination for tens of thousands of Japanese per year, and resumed its popularity following WWII. Brazil, no less than Taiwan, Manchuria or Korea, was a site of economic opportunity and new beginnings, fraught cultural exchange and hybridization. Indeed, this leads to a second point: Japan Studies has not done an adequate job of assessing forms of literary, artistic and cultural production occasioned by this century-long relationship. The subject has almost exclusively been treated as an immigrant history internal to Brazil. While I am deeply indebted to Jeffrey Lesser and other Brazilianists in elucidating the complexities of that immigrant history, I seek to provide an alternative by discussing Ishikawa Tatsuzo’s novel Sobo (People of the Earth), which was awarded the first Akutagawa Prize in 1935, and the exchanges between Parisian-based Foujita Tsuguharu and his Brazilian modernist colleagues during his visit to South America in 1931-32. Both provide valuable insights into expressions of prewar colonial modernity and literary/artistic relations with Brazil that obtained amidst the rise of the Japanese empire.

Chinese-Singpaorean repeat migrants: Performing transnational positionalities and social inequalities
Caroline Pluss, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Chinese-Singaporean repeat migrants: Performing transnational positionalities and social inequalities This article analyses the relations between the identity performances of twenty seven Chinese-Singaporean repeat migrants; and their attempts to access cultural, social, economic, emotional, and political resources in the transnational spaces they formed by crossing national boundaries more than twice. The emphasis is on discerning what the repeat migrants’ performances of transnational positionalities (that is, their accounts of their relations with people, and organizations in different countries), say about the reproduction of social inequalities under increasing conditions of globalization. To do so, I propose a new analytical approach, which links the repeat migrants’ performances of their identifications with their ability to define the content of cultural capital to access desired resources through repeat migration. The data suggest that despite the high degree of diversity in the identifications of the repeat migrants – as featured in the examples of repeat migrants constructing a transnational habitus with new assimilating cultural capital; a transnational habitus with new assimilating, and differentiating cultural capital; and a transnational habitus with new differentiation – and their partial access to desired resources, repeat migration is linked to the lack of social capital, and this lack significantly contributes to creating social inequalities under increasing conditions of globalization by hindering the repeat migrants’ influence in the defining the content of cultural capital. This finding is important because it directs attention to the role social capital plays in perpetuating inequalities of highly skilled migrants to realize their aspiration through repeat migration.

Narrative inquiry using interpreters in two cross-cultural studies
Mary Ditton, University of New England, Australia, Australia

Two recent interview-based studies of migrants from Burma1 living in Thailand highlight some important issues of narrative methodology and analysis. While narrative inquiry foregrounds the ‘personal stories’ that reside within political structures that shape the parameters of participants’ lives, narrative ethnography is challenged to find the true voice of oppressed people in exploited populations when interpreters are needed to bridge the language divide. In addition, although ethnography traditionally involves long-term immersion in cross-cultural humanitarian research, often researchers of exploited populations cannot remain at the research site for long owing to control of them by foreign governments. In this paper we explore ways of validating the narratives of oppressed participants through interpreter training and review of interpreter translations. Interviews with multiple stakeholders offered different perspectives, but also tended to show up familiar themes; and triangulation of data from multiple participants ensured greater data reliability. Through these interview-based cross-cultural studies, we learned to understand the complexity of narrative methodology and analysis in exploited populations; appreciate that a ‘life story’ is determined and shaped by socioeconomic and political forces; and identify ways of validating qualitative data when interpreters are used.