Postcolonial Urban Imaginaries and the Politics of Belonging Among Japanese Residing in Shanghai

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 11:15
Location: Hörsaal 07 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
James FARRER, Sophia University, Japan
Shanghai has long attracted one of the largest Japanese expatriates problems of any city in the world, rising to close to 70,000 by the late 2000s. This paper describes the sense of belonging of some long-term Japanese migrants, examining their stories of connecting to the city and their strategies of coping with, or deflecting, anti-Japanese sentiment and the politics of wartime memory in the China. The study is based on interviews with over 40 Japanese residing for over one year in Shanghai conducted over the past decade. Interviews covered social relations with Chinese, Japanese and other expatriates, their sense of connecting to the larger city and community, and experiences of  and attitudes toward the anti-Japanese demonstrations in the city. In qualitative sociological studies of Europeans and Americans expatriates in Shanghai, we see the importance of postcolonial legacies and connections with colonial period spaces and images. The politics of wartime memory makes such postcolonial strategies of belonging problematic for Japanese residents in Shanghai, but interviews do show Japanese residents engaging with Shanghai’s prewar history through amateur historiography, tourism, and cultural consumption.  The interviews also reveal the importance of social ties to Chinese residents, ranging from co-worker relations, ties to service providers, to dating and intermarriage. The resources for constructing a sense of belonging differ depending on age, gender, and the occupational niche occupied by migrants within the highly stratified Japanese migrant community in Shanghai.