Accepted paper:

Human aspirations, migrant experiences: articulations of love, loss and the future in Japan

Author:

Paul Green (University of Melbourne )

Paper short abstract:

This paper draws attention to the significance of real and imagined kinship ties in defining mutually valued notions of selfhood, well-being and personal security. The diversity of personal experience is considered through the memories, hopes, dreams and fears of three female Brazilian migrants living in Japan.

Paper long abstract:

Studies of Brazilian nationals living and working in Japan tend to focus on the role of ethnic and national identity concerns in the making and shaping of everyday migrant experiences. Excluded from Japanese society such people, it is argued, find a sense of belonging in the 'collective shelter' of a displaced Brazilian community. This paper, however, draws attention to the significance of real and imagined kinship ties in defining mutually valued notions of selfhood, well-being and personal security. It is these relationships, in other words, that set the tone and rules of play for the ways in which people make sense of and articulate their diverse personal journeys through life, time and transnational spaces. In being single female migrants Diana, Lidia and Kátia are able to value a sense of freedom and independence that is inspired by the experience of living alone in a small flat or apartment for the first time in their lives. Friendships evolve, meanwhile, through the 'imagined family' of one's turma (group or gang). Yet for these three human beings the here and now of everyday experience is intimately connected to their memories of loss (of lovers, husbands and parents), hopes of a 'family future' and individualistic dreams of a house by the sea. Hopes and dreams, in this sense, represent two different versions of an uncertain future and future sense of selfhood that are simultaneously associated with the unwelcome needs of aging parents in Brazil and the fear of growing old alone in Japan.

panel W028
Being human, being migrant: dealing with memory, dreams and hopes in everyday life