Presenter:BESNIER, Niko (Professor, University of Amsterdam / WIAPS Exchange Researcher)
Niko Besnier is Professor of Cultural Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam. He has previously taught at universities in the U.S., New Zealand, and Europe. His recent research concerns the construction of gender, sexuality, and the body at the convergence of global and local forces; mobility and dynamics of long-distance responsibility and care; and material and symbolic survival resources in precarious times. His most recent books are Gossip and the Everyday Production of Politics (University of Hawai‘i Press, 2009), On the Edge of the Global: Modern Anxieties in a Pacific Island Nation (Stanford University Press, 2011).
Presentation Theme:Globalization, Sports, and the Precarity of Masculinity
In the last few decades, the erosion of the social and economic structures that previously provided a straightforward raison d’être to men have transformed, in all societies of the world, masculinity into a problematic category. Younger men in particular find it increasingly difficult to secure a productive role in local economies, and many in the world’s more destitute countries are investing their hopes in the possibility of becoming a successful professional athlete. But athletic talent can only translate into economic productivity in the industrial North, and athletic migrations have become the solution for a masculinity under threat, the way out of economic precarity, and the embodiment of millenarian hope. At the same time, athletic bodies are inherently fragile, the sports industry fickle, and the paths of migrant athletes strewn with obstacles, rendering deeply problematic yet unavoidable the dependence of so many individuals on the success of a few. This presentation illustrates these dilemmas with ethnographic data on Tongan migrant rugby players in Japan.
Presenter:BOYD, James Patrick（Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies, Waseda University）
Presentation Theme:Nationalism, Narratives and Normative Change in Postwar Japan
Claims that nationalism is rising in post-Cold War Japan highlight the disconnect between existent social science conceptions of nationalism and those needed to examine how nationalism might change in contemporary, peaceful, wealthy, and stable democracies. My research addresses this theoretical gap by treating nationalism as a discourse best understood as “nation-state narratives, ” or reoccurring stories of how the nation's putative qualities or past experiences should define the present nature of its territorial state. Change in nationalism in postwar Japan is evaluated through content analysis of five such narratives expressing the relationship between the Japanese people and their state in a sample of elite discourse drawn from the period 1952-2007.
This analysis reveals that references to all five narratives peak in the immediate postwar period and again in the 1980s before declining to lows in the post-Cold War period, which also saw the highest level of contestation over these narratives in the nearly sixty years of the study. In particular, the narrative depicting Japan as an anti-militarist/pacifist nation-state as well as the narrative emphasizing Japan as an ethnically homogeneous nation-state proved the most contested during this period, while the narrative affirming Japan as a democratic nation-state went uncontested. Political struggles over reforming institutions associated with the narratives were found to be the major drivers behind these changes, although characteristics of the narratives, especially the specificity of their normative claims, also shaped this process.
The post-Cold War period is thus found to be one of transition in nationalist discourse in Japan, although the scale of change is somewhat limited. While the anti-militarist/pacifist narrative saw some of its normative claims attacked and reshaped, others remained unchallenged.
Overall, the nationalist discourse in Japan over the last two decades has continued to legitimate democracy, even as it has shifted away from more insular and exclusionary forms, factors which have helped shape electoral reforms and may create space for more open immigration policies moving forward.