Accepted Paper:

has pdf download Representations and reflections: Japanese youths as constructors of their own realities in the filmic medium  


Doan Morgan Vassaf (Rutgers )

Paper short abstract:

This paper focuses on filmic representations of Japanese children as constructors of their own realities. For the future of anthropological discourse, it is vital to conceptualize children within their culture, for which filmic narratives provide a crucial resource.

Paper long abstract:

This paper will focus on filmic representations of the social and interpersonal development of Japanese children constructing their own realities without the assistance of adults. It will situate these representations within the wider context of conceptions of childhood within Japanese society.

An anthropological and semiotic approach to films as text is utilized. In order to better understand the place of children within the world and in academic discourse it is necessary to look at representations of them within the media. In the past few decades there has been a significant change in perceptions of the place of childhood within the anthropological discipline, and this paper will showcase this development.

Through the use of film as ethnographic text the paper will examine conceptions of childhood within Japanese society focusing on: the concept of amae (passive love); the cultural norms/'master narratives' of group versus individual; uchi vs. soto (inside vs. outside); social change; family structure; education, and agency. The core of the paper will be an analysis of conceptions of childhood in the narrative discourse of the film Nobody Knows, based on true life events. It will examine how children who are truly alone struggle to survive within urban Japanese culture by creating their own subsection of society. This analysis investigates the filmic re-contextualization of Japanese childhood within their mediated narratives, reflecting on changing conceptions of Japanese youths as constructors of their own reality.

Panel P034
Childhood(s) and youth(s) of the future: children as cultural and social resources (Commission on Children, Youth and Childhood)