Digital Outsourcing and Japanese Call Center Workers in Dalian, China

Editors’ note: This is the fifth piece of the series “In and Out of Japan.” In 2003, the first Japanese-staffed call center opened in Dalian, a north-eastern city of six million people dubbed China’s “Green Silicon Valley.” Thousands of Japanese workers have served consumers across Sino-Japanese borders, alongside their bilingual Chinese colleagues. They are recruited […]

Empire of Sound

A foundational moment in the historiographical study of Islam in China was marked by a light scorn. “You cannot alter the text at will and still claim it is from the original,” the prominent historian Chen Yuan thus expressed his frustration with Hui Muslim scholars in 1928. “Each generation had its own way of transcription. […]

English Teaching in, out, and through Japan

Editors’ note: This is the fourth piece of the series “In and Out of Japan.” Various life courses emerge from teaching English in Japan: short-term and long-term stays, transformation into other professions or increasing precarity among a cohort of mostly uncontracted freelance workers. In this piece, I highlight those who move in and (then) out of […]

Bakugai! Explosive Shopping and Entangled Sino-Japanese Mobilities

Editors’s note: This is the third piece of the series “In and Out of Japan.” Chinese mobile subjects and their practices occupy an ambivalent role in contemporary Japanese society. They are the saviors of Japan’s sluggish economy but seen as the instigators of social problems: mass tourism, intensive shopping and crime. Chinese “newcomer” migrants are […]

“Purification From the Start”—Buddhist Recycling in Taiwan

On an August evening in the 1990s, Chengyen—a Buddhist nun who founded the Buddhist lay organization Tzuchi in 1966—was disturbed by the overwhelming amount of garbage in a night market on her way to give a speech. During this period, after the lift of martial law in Taiwan, Tzuchi was expanding rapidly and had become […]

Report for the SEAA Student Activities

Since 2005, Society of East Asian Anthropology (SEAA) has started Graduate Student Mentoring Workshop during the American Anthropology Association annual meetings. Over a decade, the spirit of the workshop has been to provide graduate students with opportunities to communicate with junior and senior scholars in the area of East Asian Anthropology and get better prepared […]

Japan’s Diminishing Korean Minority

Editors’s note: This is the second piece of the series “In and Out of Japan.”  From the end of the war until 2007, Koreans represented Japan’s largest ethnic minority group. There are currently around half a million individuals in Japan who identify as Korean. This is only surpassed by the number of Chinese. The number […]

Gratuitous Ancestor Worship—of (and for) Robert J. Smith

I first met Bob in the hamlet of Kurusu in the early 1990s, but he didn’t meet me until two decades later, in the village of Ogata. We did not actually “meet” in either place; I first read his classic study of that community then, and some 20 years later he read my 2012 book […]

In and Out of Japan

2015 was the first time since 1920 that the population of Japan declined, and it is estimated that it will continue doing so. By 2100, 35% of the population will be over 65 years of age. International commentators, from journalists to researchers, recommend Japan increase immigration. And yet, Prime Minister Abe recently stated that Japan’s […]