A Sense of Absence: A Reflection on Ethnography of Walking in Yokohama and Vancouver

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 9:10 AM
Room: 424
Oral Presentation
Ayaka YOSHIMIZU , Simon Fraser University, Canada
Julia AOKI , Simon Fraser University, Canada
This paper reflects on our ethnography of walking, part of our larger cross-Pacific project on the formation and regulation of communities of sex-workers, which we have been conducting since the summer of 2012 in former-brothel-districts of Yokohama, Japan and Vancouver, Canada, places that are commonly marked by absences of material and discursive traces and documentation of communities of sex workers. We discuss how we came to make sense of and engage with the places through our sense of the material absences but “ghostly” presence (Gordon 2008) of sex workers’ bodies and brothels. We also discuss how our affective responses such as frustration, numbness, boredom and anger, which we experienced when encountered the production of those absences, enabled us, emplaced ethnographers, to make the absences visible and envision an ethical way to engage with the spaces whose communities were uprooted and memories have been marginalized, erased or forgotten.