Accepted Paper:

From "refugee" to "minority": ethnography on works by Vietnamese migrants living in Japan  

Author:

Emi Nogami (Kobe Univercity)

Paper short abstract:

This research clarified the process through which the image Japanese people have about Vietnamese migrants (VMs) changed from "refugee" to "minority". As a place where the "minority" image about the VMs is generated, we did research at a "chemical (synthetic) shoes " factory where many VMs work.

Paper long abstract:

This research clarified the process through which the image Japanese people have regarding Vietnamese migrants changed from "refugee" to "minority".

As a source of where the "minority" image about the Vietnamese migrants is generated, we shed light on the Vietnamese migrants' workplaces, which have not been investigated thoroughly in the past, and conducted research at a "chemical shoes (synthetic shoes)" factory where many Vietnamese migrants work. Mutual relationship and mutual actions between Vietnamese migrants and "other persons" there are presented.

In the chemical shoes factory, the ethnicity of the Vietnamese migrants as "refugee" once became meaningless, and a new image about the Vietnamese migrants was generated on the basis of their ethnicity. On the other hand, the Vietnamese migrants internalized the ethnicity newly generated by being related with behaviors of workers in the chemical shoes factory. Moreover, narratives about work experiences and everyday lives were reorganized and reformulated by internalization of the new ethnicity by Vietnamese migrants. As a result, Vietnamese migrants became regarded as "minorities" living in surroundings, on the basis of the cultural difference.

We then pointed out that the "work experiences" by Vietnamese migrants to secure their livelihood were viewed as economic activities pertaining to minorities in the context of Japanese society. It was also pointed out that the image of Vietnamese migrants as minorities, which was presupposed so far in discussion on foreign residents in Japan and "multi-cultural symbiosis" was established by mutual relationship between Vietnamese migrants and surrounding persons.

Panel RM-MRB04
Migration and transnational dynamics of non-western civil societies