S5a_10
Making Sense of this World: The Intersection of Materiality and Immateriality in Japan

Convenors:
Lynne Nakano (The Chinese University of Hong Kong)
Section:
Anthropology and Sociology
Location:
Bloco 1, Piso 1, Sala 1.10
Start time:
31 August, 2017 at 14:00
Session slots:
1

Short abstract:

The panel explores the relationship between the material and immaterial worlds in Japan and considers how material contexts impact perceptions. Panelists consider whether there are any recognizable patterns in the interplay of material and immaterial spheres in Japan.

Long abstract:

The panel explores the relationship between the material and immaterial worlds in Japan and considers how material contexts impact perceptions in a Japanese context. While the material and immaterial are often viewed as discrete spheres, the panel explores their interconnection through the ways that people talk about their lives and values. The panel considers how the material world intersects with perception in three major areas of life in Japan: physical and nonphysical disability in children, material conditions of marriage and marital happiness, and materiality and views of death and the afterlife. The first paper examines how disability in children, both visible and invisible (for example, developmental disorders such as ADHD and autism), is interpreted by parents and educators, and how educators and parents discuss the relationship between the material disability/ability and the immaterial value of their child. The second paper examines how housing and material contexts shape marital happiness among couples in Tokyo. The third paper explores how materiality shapes perceptions of death and the afterlife. By exploring individuals' appraisal of material contexts in shaping life positions and values, the panel considers whether there are any recognizable patterns in the interplay of material and immaterial spheres in Japan, and thereby generates discussion on how the anthropology of Japan may contribute to theories of materiality.