1st Edition

Politics and Pitfalls of Japan Ethnography Reflexivity, Responsibility, and Anthropological Ethics

Edited By Jennifer Robertson Copyright 2009
    120 Pages
    by Routledge

    120 Pages
    by Routledge

    Four anthropologists, Elise Edwards, Ann Elise Lewallen, Bridget Love and Tomomi Yamaguchi, draw on their fieldwork experiences in Japan to demonstrate collectively the inadequacy of both the Code of Ethics developed by the American Anthropological Association (AAA) and the dictates of Institutional Review Boards (IRB) when dealing with messy human realities. The four candidly and critically explore the existential dilemmas they were forced to confront with respect to this inadequacy, for the AAA’s code and IRBs consider neither the vulnerability and powerlessness of ethnographers nor the wholly unethical (and even criminal) deportment of some informants. As Jennifer Robertson points out in her Introduction, whereas the AAA’s Code tends to perpetuate the stereotype of more advantaged fieldworkers studying less advantaged peoples, IRBs appear to protect their home institutions (from possible litigation) rather than living and breathing people whose lives are often ethically compromised irrespective of the presence of an ethnographer. In her commentary, Sabine Frühstück, who incurred ample experience with ethical dilemmas in the course of her pathbreaking ethnographic research on Japan’s Self-Defense Forces, situates the four articles in a broader theoretical context, and emphasizes the link between political engagement and ethnographic accuracy.

    This book was previously published as a special issue of Critical Asian Studies.


    1 Performing Media-Constructed Images for First-Class Citizenship: Political Struggles of Rural Migrant Hostesses in Dalian  Tiantian Zheng

    2 Migrant Workers in the Pearl River Delta: Discourse and Narratives about Work as Sites of Struggle  Eric Florence

    3 The Paradox of the State-Run Media Promoting Poor Governance in China: Case Studies of a Party Newspaper and an Anticorruption Film  Rachel Murphy

    4 Querying Queer Theory: Debating Male-Male Prostitution in the Chinese Media  Elaine Jeffreys

    5 The Internet and the Fragmentation of Chinese Society  Jens Damm

    6 SMS, Communication, And Citizenship In China's Information Society  Kevin Latham

    7 The New Chinese Citizen and CETV  Yingchi Chu


    Jennifer Robertson is professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Michigan. The author of numerous articles, her books include, as editor, Same-Sex Cultures and Sexualities: An Anthropological Reader (Blackwell, 2004); and A Companion to the Anthropology of Japan (Blackwell, 2005). Robertson is the general editor of Colonialisms, a new book series from the University of California Press (www.ucpress.edu/books/COL.ser.html), and is presently completing a book on cultures of Japanese colonialism, eugenics, and humanoid robots.