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Projecting Self and Other Through Akogare (Desire) Among Japanese University Students: The English Language and the Internationalization of Higher Education in a Changing Japan.

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Title:Projecting Self and Other Through Akogare (Desire) Among Japanese University Students: The English Language and the Internationalization of Higher Education in a Changing Japan.
Authors:Nonaka, Chisato
Contributors:Education (department)
internationalization [kokusaika]
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higher education
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Date Issued:May 2017
Publisher:University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Abstract:Akogare [desire] is a Japanese word laden with cultural and emotive values. In the recent TESOL [Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages] studies, akogare has been conceptualized to emphasize the Japanese specific desire for English or “the West” in general. This study not only leverages such a conceptualization of akogare, but also reframes it to highlight the complex and liberating space created by akogare where, I argue, individuals can negotiate or even transcend their ethnic, national, racial, gender, or linguistic identities.
Using akogare as both an analytical lens and focus of investigation, this narrative study examines the field of Japanese higher education (JHE hereafter) in which, over the past few decades, the government has rolled out several large-scale kokusaika [internationalization] policies. While billions of yen (=millions in USD) are expended annually for such policies, few studies have yet to determine the actual effects. Moreover, these policies advocate English education (as both a subject and as the medium of instruction) with little reservation, postulating that English is the remedy for all international and global matters.
To better understand the current kokusaika state of JHE and to reimagine what kokusaika should/can look like for Japan in the coming years, I examine the narratives of Japanese university students and faculty members. Specifically, this study focuses on how my study participants (over 200 students, faculty, staff, and other informants from JHE institutions) may perceive “Japaneseness” or “non-Japaneseness” at a given time and space, which has helped render a complex picture of the kokusaika landscape and of Japan at large. Methodologically, online questionnaires, follow-up interviews, and field observations are utilized to weave together threads of stories between and across different types of data.

Through the bricolage of narratives, this study presents three major findings. First, it demonstrates how “Japan” or “Japaneseness/non-Japaneseness” is collectively yet divisively imagined/practiced by my study participants. This not only helps raise awareness of the complex “-scapes” of Japan, but also addresses the urgency to create a space for alternatives voices.
Second, kokusaika funds are often being allocated to a select few universities while other universities without the necessary means are left out of the kokusaika campaign. By extension, there seem to be have and have-not universities within the kokusaika landscape of Japan and their students are likewise affected.
Third, the idea of English in Japan reigns across different academic contexts where it can both foster and obscure one’s akogare, even amongst the most well-established scholars in Japan. In this sense, English may be causing turbulence in the traditionally hierarchical system of JHE because one’s years of experience or academic integrity and rigor may become less important when his/her English skills are put to the test.
Overall, what seems largely absent yet progressively important in today’s Japan, particularly in the kokusaika campaign, is a sense of multiplicity. I conclude, therefore, that the ongoing kokusaika campaign should be utilized as a potential and appropriate venue to foster a sense of multiplicity.
Description:Ph.D. Thesis. University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa 2017.
Rights:All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections: Ph.D. - Education

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