Collaborative Research Unit on "Multiculturalism in Asian Societies" (2009-10)

Person in charge:

James Farrer,
Research Proposal
a. goals and basic research questions

lanternThe goals of this research unit is to build a community of scholars, centered around the ICC, studying issues related to multiculturalism and intercultural contact, and related concepts of nationalism, regionalism, ethnicity, and pan-Asianism, in Asia. Our principle question is what models of multiculturalism exist in Asian contexts, including diasporic contexts such as Asian communities in Europe and North America and migrant communities in Asian cities. We do not have a fixed definition of multiculturalism because we are hoping to create a context in which new ideas of multiculturalism – and related concepts of nationalism, regionalism, culture and ethnicity – can be developed that relate more specifically to the experiences of peoples in Asia. The long-term goal of this research unit is to realize the distinct potential of Sophia as a center for the study of multiculturalism in Japan and in the larger Asian region, and to move from a role as consumer of theory to producers of theory. Another All of the members are involved in empirical research projects that speak to the issues described above, and the project's main purpose is to promote intellectual synergies, while providing modest financial and practical support some of the empirical projects.

Activities of proposed research unit members:

James Farrer is working the idea of multiculturalism as it relates to concepts of 'urban citizenship' for foreign residents in Shanghai. His project also looks comparatively at notions of urban citizenship in other cities with the hope of developing concepts of multiculturalism at the urban level that describe the involvements of foreign residents in multiple areas of city life, including, work, marriage, family, community life and informal political action.

David Wank is working on ideas of regional identity within China as a novel Chinese notion of multiculturalism with influences both from state policies and market mechanisms. This study is an examination of key symbols of one Chinese region, Shanxi province, which constitutes part of Yellow River region, the heartland of Chinese civilization. The research focuses on key symbols, such as cuisine and historical monuments, looking at both the meanings that they are intended to communicate and the various actors and interests that are working to create and control the sites of their production. Key cuisine symbols to be considered are regional dish restaurants and local specialty products, such as vinegar. Key historical symbols are merchant houses and museums.

Mark Mullins is engaged in research on neo-nationalism and religion in contemporary Japanese society. This is a broad comparative study that seeks to analyze competing religious visions of the "good society" and the possibilities for a multicultural Japan. On the one hand, there are religious groups that provide ideological support for recent neo-nationalist initiatives, including the revision of the Fundamental Education Law and efforts to revise the Constitution, which promote a version of patriotism and national pride that tends to exclude minorities. On the other hand, there are religious groups critically engaging this narrow vision and seeking to build a more inclusive Japan with public and religious institutions that take into consideration the increasing number of foreign workers, non-Japanese children, and children of mixed marriages.

Sven Saaler is working on the development of Pan-Asianism, an ideology with transnational, or regionalist notions that emerged in Asia since the mid 19th century. Although the development of Pan-Asianism is closely connected to the spread of nationalism in Asia, this transnational ideology represents early discomfort with nationalism in Asia and an attempt to overcome self-contained versions of nationalism. Sven Saaler's research focuses particularly on aspects of conceptual history, i.e. the different usages and meanings of pan-Asian notions at different times, in different places and in different political and social contexts. Koichi Nakano is working on regionalism in France and Japan –two nation-states noted for centralist traditions, in spite of the existence of distinct sub-national cultures in the "periphery" (e.g. Corsica in France and Okinawa/Ryukyu in Japan).

Midori Okabe and Devin Stewart are members of the planning committee for the Sophia Symposium on "The Right to Move." Okabe also is engaged in a comparative study of migration policies in the EU and Japan.

Takefumi Terada and Kosaku Yoshino will be involved in the project as collaborative members.
Yoshino's research focuses on multiculturalism in Malaysia. Terada's research focuses on foreign religious communities in Tokyo.

Tian Xiaohong is collaborating with James Farrer on the study of foreign communities in Shanghai.

b. analytical framework(s) or theoretical approaches

This is a theory-building project, aimed at developing new conceptions of multiculturalism relevant to the Asian context. Although guided by theoretical formulations from our own disciplines, as a group, we do not have a single analytic or theoretical framework, but rather aim to engage in a plural set of theoretical discussions. Postcolonial theories plays a role in some projects. Other projects are guided by international relations theory and theories derived from the sociology of culture. In general, our approach is grounded in empirical research, inductive and data-driven, using historical texts, ethnographic data and case studies of actual political processes to generate a discussion of Asian multiculturalism. The goal of the project is to move beyond the simple consumption of theory that is the typical role of scholars located on the fringe of Anglophone scholarship, and move towards a project of theory generation.

c. research methods (general description for interdisciplinary projects)

We wish to promote theory building within a comparative and interdisciplinary context. The main methodological premise that holds all these projects together is a commitment to empirical comparative analysis. Each member of our group is engaged in his or her own individual project with methods that derive from his or her discipline, but the goal of the project as a whole is to use the opportunity of empirically based comparison. We all wish to develop concepts that both speak to the local situations we are discussing will also engaging in the type of broader comparative discussion that is conducive to theory building. One goal of the project is to share ideas about how to best approach the idea of multiculturalism from the point of view of multi-scala analysis (Sassen 2007) examining possible relationships between different scales of analysis: interpersonal, organizational and institutional, regional or urban, national and international. Since most of the members have research grants for travel, the main contribution of this project to their individual studies is the use of student research assistance for coding data, transcription and collecting materials.

d. expected outcomes

Our goals for the first year of the project mainly focus on supporting the research activities of some of our members, holding regular workshop meetings, attending invited lectures, and participating in the Sophia Symposium on "The Right to Move: the ethics of migration" to be held on December 12-13 2009. For that conference we intend to organize a roundtable discussion of graduate students and younger scholars from Sophia and other area universities, doing research on multiculturalism and migration in Japan. During the second year of the project we plan to organize additional workshop, in which we will present the findings of our own research together with invited speakers.

e. the potential implications of the research findings

asia streetMost models of multiculturalism have been developed in the context of European and American societies, with little focus on Asia. We want to develop ideas based on Asian models, but also engage in discussions outside the Asian area to build up new theoretical conceptions of Asian multi. We hope this process of theory building is facilitated by creating a community of theoretical discourse centered at the Institute of Comparative Culture, and more generally within Sophia University.

Names of researchers involved
Institute Members:
James Farrer (organizer)
David Wank
Mark Mullins
Sven Saaler
Koichi Nakano

Collaborating Sophia scholars:
Terada Takefumi, Asian Studies, Sophia
Okabe Midori, Law Faculty, Sophia
Yoshino Kosaku, Sociology, Sophia

Collaborating non-Sophia scholars:
Devin Stewart, Carnegie Council on Ethics in International Affairs, USA
Tian Xiaohong, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, China

Based on the "Right to Move Symposium" we are planning to publish a collection of short papers with collaboration of the Carnegie Council online publication called Policy Innovations.

g. Short list of relevant publications by members of the proposed unit

Farrer, James. 2009. "One Bed, Different Dreams: The Beijing Olympics as seen in Tokyo." China in 2008: A Year of Great Significance. Edited by Kate Merkel-Hess, Kenneth L. Pomeranz, and Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom with Miri Kim (Foreword by Jonathan D. Spence). Rowman and Littlefield, pp. 203-205.

_____________. (forthcoming 2009). "A foreign adventurer's paradise? Interracial sexuality and alien sexual capital in reform era Shanghai" The Journal of Sexualities.

_____________. (forthcoming 2009). "'New Shanghailanders' or 'New Shanghainese'? narratives of emplacement of western expatriate settlers in Shanghai" The Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies.

____________. 2008. "From 'Passports' to 'Joint Ventures': Intermarriage between Chinese Nationals and Western Expatriates Residing in Shanghai" Asian Studies Review. Volume 32, Issue 1 (March 2008), pp. 7 – 29.

Mullins, Mark R., "The Social and Legal Context of Proselytization in Contemporary Japan," in Rosalind I.J. Hackett, ed. Proselytization Revisited: Rights Talk, Free Markets and Culture Wars. London: Equinox Publishing, 2008.

___________, "Religion in Contemporary Japanese Lives," in Theodore C. Bestor and Victoria Lyon Bestor, eds. Routledge Handbook on Japanese Culture and Society. Routledge, (forthcoming).

___________, "Between Inculturation and Globalization: The Situation of Roman Catholicism in Contemporary Japanese Society," in Kevin Doak, ed. Xavier's Legacies: Catholicism in Modern Japanese Culture. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, (forthcoming).

Nakano, Koichi. "The Role of Ideology and Elite Networks in the Decentralisation Reforms in France of the 1980s," West European Politics, vol. 23, no. 3 (July 2000), pp. 97-114.

_____________ "Nationalism and Localism in Japan's Political Debate of the 1990s," The Pacific Review, vol. 11, no. 4 (1998), pp. 505-524.

Saaler, Sven. [Co-editor, with J. Victor Koschmann] Pan-Asianism in Modern Japanese History: Colonialism, regionalism and borders, London and New York: Routledge (Asia's Transformation Series), 2007 (288 pp).

___________. The Construction of Regionalism in Modern Japan: Kodera Kenkichi and His Treatise on Greater Asianism, 1916. In: Modern Asian Studies 41/6, 2007, pp. 1261-1294.

____________. 大正期における政治結社 ― 黒龍会の活動と人脈 (Political Societies in the Taisho era: The activities and the social network of the Kokuryukai). In: Inoki Takenori (ed.): Demokurashii to chûkan dantai - senkanki Nihon no shakai shûdan to nettwaku (Democracy and intermediary organizations - social organizations and networks in interwar Japan), NTT Shuppan, 2008, pp. 81-108.