Akogare, ideology, and 'charisma man' mythology: Reflections on ethnographic research in English language schools in Japan

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33 Scopus citations

Abstract

In light of recent reflexive ethnography based on frameworks of performativity, this work develops a phenomenological interpretation of my white, male, gaijin (foreign), English-speaking positionality inside Japan's private English conversation schools (eikaiwa). These eikaiwa are ubiquitous in modern urban areas. They are patronized predominantly by women who seek career enhancement, study and/or work abroad, and international romance. To understand the gendered participation patterns inside the eikaiwa I develop a phenomenological understanding of my positionality through a framework based on Occidentalism. This framework is grounded in the ideo-geographically specific notions of seken (surveillance) and akogare (desire). Akogare is instantiated and intensified inside eikaiwa by the performative aspects of staff, students and instructor practices in addition to eikaiwa texts and advertising and popular media discourses while seken, especially gender-normative seken, directed at women is minimized. This framework allows me to present a nuanced account of the interaction of my positionalities with those of the informants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)585-608
Number of pages24
JournalGender, Place and Culture
Volume14
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2007

Keywords

  • Akogare
  • Dialectics of positionality
  • Occidentalism
  • Romantic fantasy
  • Sexuality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Demography
  • Cultural Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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