by Mari Shiba, Nagoya University and ISA Member of Research Committee on Sociology of Migration (RC31), Kyoko Tominaga, University of Tokyo, Keisuke Mori, Hitotsubashi University, and Norie Fukui, Kyushu University, Japan
Professors Koichi Hasegawa, Shujiro Yazawa, Yoshimichi Sato, and Sawaka Shirihase – key members of the Local Organizing Committee for next year’s World Congress of Sociology in Yokohama (July 13-19) – put on an enticing pre-Congress conference, exactly one year ahead. The idea was to bring leading scholars from around the world – Professors Margaret Abraham from the US, Emma Porio from the Philippines and Han Sang-Jin from South Korea – into dialogue with young Japanese sociologists. This is what we young sociologists have to say:
Mari Shiba: I presented a paper on “Mutual Respect, Responsibility and Dialogue with Others within Us: A Case Study of Inter-country Adopted Children’s Past, Present and Future.” My presentation raised the question of cultural essentialism under multi-cultural policies. I am especially interested in the role of “mediators” between majority and minority communities who can build what could be called “convivial” relations beyond mere multi-cultural coexistence. As a graduate student who attended the previous Congress in Gothenburg and also participated in the Second Forum in Buenos Aires, let me say that these experiences gave me a whole new network of friends and colleagues, and so I encourage young sociologists, wherever you are, to come to the beautiful Yokohama next year to share your research and chart a common pathway toward a brighter future for the world!
Kyoko Tominaga: I gave a paper on “How Activists Connect Their Weak Ties? What is Their ‘Sense of Community’?: Anti-G8 protest as an Opportunity to Build Networks among Activists”. I am analyzing global justice movements/anti-globalization movements in Japan. I recognize that such movements exist in different countries but with distinctive tactics, contents, and organizing styles, making them not only global but also national and local. The conference discussions helped me grasp more sharply the strengths and weaknesses of the Japanese version of global justice movements as well as the limits of my own research framework.
Keisuke Mori: I was pleased to have the opportunity to present my work on “Connecting to the Third World Project: Genealogy of Anti-Military Base Movements in Okinawa Island from a Worldwide Perspective.” I am trying to connect the post-WWII history of Okinawa in Japan to the people’s histories of the world, by examining the common struggles against military bases. The presence of distinguished visitors with varied backgrounds helped me locate my study in a global perspective.
Norie Fukui: I presented my research on “Memory and Representation in Post-conflict Northern Ireland Society.” My research focuses on the wall murals in Northern Ireland, which show how two neighboring urban communities express hostility and empathy toward each other. Although I study Northern Ireland, I found I have common ground with other scholars who helped me apply my ideas to the Asian context. That’s what I hope the Yokohama Congress will be all about.
We would like to end with a few words from Margaret Abraham, ISA Vice-President for Research. She writes: “The invited guests were most impressed by the range of topics addressed by these young sociologists, and how globally conscious they were. It was also gratifying to see how the Japanese LOC has expanded the ISA initiative for conversations between senior and junior sociologists held at the Buenos Aires Forum of 2012. Finally, let me say that Yokohama is, indeed, a beautiful place, and everyone was going about their lives in normal fashion, and the hospitality, cuisine, and the sushi were truly special. It is going to be very exciting to have thousands of sociologists from all over the world come to Yokohama next year to participate in the XVIII ISA World Congress of Sociology!”