Facing the Selves in the Field Research of Immigrants : From the Research Question Based on Visibility to Led through Daily Relationships

Monday, July 14, 2014: 11:14 AM
Room: F201
Oral Presentation
Hideki INAZU , JSPS Research Fellow, Japan
This paper aims to describe the process of constructing and transforming research questions through encounters with immigrants in the field of everyday life under the globalized environment, and to indicate two approaches to the fieldwork, based on my research around Kobe city, Japan. The first is research based on researchers’ perceptions that categorized immigrants as the “aliens” visibly in the social structure, while the researchers’ positions and power to make them other are not critically subjected. Here, encounter is not a research subject but rather a chance to inspect their presupposed research question. On the contrary, the alternative approach that constructs research question from daily relationships with immigrants focuses on the encounter itself as the process of facing the selves that occurs us another belonging and identity in the dimension of existential movement, such as Ghassan Hage proposed (Hage 2005). Based on my research, I experienced these approaches as transition from the former to the latter, that criticized the direct linkage between the notion of “aliens” and their visibilities by walking away from the ethnic festival to the daily relationships among return migrants from Peru, and by getting involved an trouble of a family that shaken researcher’s existence to remind me my family backgrounds as also return migrants from Korean peninsula after the colonial period. This is just one of examples to research another belonging and identity between researchers and informants. However, in the field of Japanese sociologists, there is almost separated between international sociology that focuses on structural social change and life story studies that approaches to individual meaning of life and encounters with informants so long time. This paper shows the possibility and the subject to link these studies on immigrants as one of fieldwork methodology for bridging between social theories and realities of daily life under globalization.