JAPAN YOUTH CULTURES IN TRANSITION

boySession I:

WHEN: Saturday, March 5th, 4pm
WHERE: Sophia University, Ichigaya Campus
Room 402, Main Building

Dr. Andrea Arai (Pacific Lutheran U.):
"When National Futures No longer Guarantee Personal Ones: the Juku, Japanese Youth and the Unseen Dilemmas of the Everyday"

Dr. Mizuko Ito (USC and Keio U.):
"Always On, Never Alone: Keitai and Youth Peer Relations"

Session II:

WHEN: Sunday, March 6th, 10am
WHERE: Sophia University, Ichigaya Campus
Room 402, Main Building
This will be an open discussion of the main topic having to do with Youth today.

girlSession III:

WHEN: Sunday, March 6th, 4am
WHERE: Sophia University, Ichigaya Campus Room 402, Main Building

Dr. Todd Holden (Tohoku U.):
The Transformations in Youth and Media

Dr. David Slater (Sophia University) Educational Withdrawal and its Effects

Abstracts:

Dr. Andrea Arai: Department of Anthropology, Pacific Lutheran University

WHEN NATIONAL FUTURES NO LONGER GUARANTEE PERSONAL ONES: THE JUKU, JAPANESE YOUTH AND THE UNSEEN DILEMMAS OF THE EVERYDAY IN 21ST CENTURY JAPAN

This paper is based on a chapter of my dissertation that was an ethnographic study of the positioning of the family and youth in relation to the juku (and the larger industry of educational supplements) during the period of economic downturn and corporate restructuring of the late 1990s and early 2000's. Looking closely at the developments in the supplementary schooling industry during the first years of the twenty-first century, the chapter integrated observations in exam preparation school classrooms, interviews with management, and analysis of marketing and curricular materials with participation at parent events and expos, and many intimate conversations with parents and students about their experiences with supplementary schooling. In addition, in this chapter, I sought to understand how the production of parental subjectivities, the intensification of mother-child labor and the positioning of the youth were affected by the colliding discourses of national decline, collapsing schools, failing homes, and strange kids of the beginning of the 21st century in Japan.
For the "youth cultures" volume, I am updating and revisiting prior ethnographic data and analyses of cram school industry brochures, magazines and performance data, focusing further on the tensions, positionings and strategies of parent and youth in the midst of the neo-liberalization of education, the restructuring of the labor force, and the renarrating of the nation in the "post-recessionary" era. Out of this has emerged a picture of how exam preparation schools employ the power of specific informational technologies to produce a dispensation of certainty. Further routinizing the production of value, this effect of certainly serves to naturalize educational labor, while expanding the reach of this industry into increasingly private realms. However, this aura of certainty, I argue, is predicated upon a fixing of the child in temporality and value that is oblivious to the struggles of youth to construct new subjectivities, exemplified recently by the circumstances surrounding last year's knifing of a schoolmate by a fellow female 6th grader in Nagasaki.

Dr. Mizuko Ito: Department of Anthropology and Annenberg Center for Communication, University of Southern California

cellphoneALWAYS ON, NEVER ALONE: KEITAI AND YOUTH PEER RELATIONS

Japanese youth have had a leadership role in what is currently being dubbed the "mobile revolution," beginning with the adoption of pager text messaging by teenage girls in the early nineties. Now keitai are a ubiquitous and essential part of Japanese life, not only for business people and youth, but also across the social spectrum. The focus of the talk will be on ethnographic case studies of how mobile messaging and camera phone usage is embedded in the social networks and cultural

These cases will be discussed in relation to the broader trend towards portable and ubiquitous media forms that make digital content and communication highly personalized and seamlessly integrated with more and more settings of everyday life. Those who are heavy users of text messaging are beginning to inhabit an "always on" online social environment where they can keep in ongoing, lightweight contact with their closest friends and families.

Project Profile:

This is the third meeting in our project on Youth Cultures in Transition (the first occurring at the Anthropology of Japan in Japan Annual Meeting in November). Japanese youth are encountering new challenges that are forcing them to face new choices and find alternative routes into adulthood. The series of primary institutional contexts through which young people have been socialized--family, the school and work--have all gone through dramatic changes in the past 10 years. And like young people in other neoliberal societies, Japanese youth have been forced to find new ways to orient themselves within these context in meaningful ways, and strategize among these contexts as parts of new life trajectories. Our project aims at ethnographic analysis of these contexts, values and strategies. Please join us in exploring these dynamics.