Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context
Issue 7, March 2002

The Relevance of the Bridging of Discourse and Feminist Theory for Japan

Chris Burgess
      A sense of irritation triggers the writing of this paper ... characterised as the doubt or discomfort caused in me by a growing dissonance between my subjectivity on the one hand, an effect in part of my history and of my efforts to conceptualise and understand that history, and on the other, the 'habits' of thought institutionalised by the prevalence of intellectual systems ... that mysteriously evacuate the experiencing subject from the processes of the production, reception, and interpretation of signs.[1]

  1. One of the classic theoretical debates has concerned the link between the individual and the social. Foucauldian Discourse[2] provides one way of approaching this debate. Feminism[3]—for whom the relationship between the individual and the social has been argued to be central[4]—provides another. This essay attempts to show the value of bridging Foucauldian Discourse and feminist theory for the study of identity (re)construction in Japan. This paper is written from the perspective of a researcher who, at the time of writing, is doing fieldwork in Japan for a forthcoming Ph.D. thesis, provisionally entitled '(Re)Constructing Identity: Discourse and the Subject Construction of Long Term Foreign Residents in Yamagata Prefecture'. While this paper is theoretically heavy, reflecting the fact that the research is still a work in progress, I conclude with some preliminary observations direct from the field that highlight the complexity of the relationship between data and theory.
  2. While the notion of Discourse is shown in this essay to be a powerful conceptual tool in understanding the constitution of the subject, its treatment of subjectivity (male as well as female) is argued to be inadequate. Feminism has been instrumental in 'recovering' subjectivity largely by re-examining Foucault's conception of power. Although Foucault argues that power cannot be 'possessed' by men (or anyone else), women's experiences of men's power suggest the reality of male forms of domination backed by force, domination that is, moreover, more than simply a product of Discourse.[5] In this way, feminism, like subaltern studies, by emphasising the everyday direct lived experience of the less-powerful, highlights Discursive theory's most crucial failure: the failure to distinguish what is inside and what is outside the Discourse.[6] The conclusion is that by viewing identity as constructed (and constantly reconstructed) at the temporary point of intersection between external Discourses and practices and the internal psychic processes that produce subjectivities, the tension between the two can be trafficked and the struggle over how to represent subjects in Japan more adequately addressed.

    The Culture Construct and the 'Japanese Self'
  3. The notion of 'culture' permeates almost everything that has been written to date on identity construction in Japan. As Tamura points out,[7] many scholars in the field continue to be greatly influenced by Mead's interpretation of the construction of self as 'relational' to the particular 'culture'. Smith, for example, following Lebra, points out the importance of relationships for 'the Japanese', describing the so-called 'Japanese self' as the 'interactionist self',[8] as illustrated by levels of polite language and constant shifting of the personal pronoun depending on with whom one is interacting.[9] Bachnik has argued extensively that 'the Japanese' place greater emphasis on relationships rather than the self per se.[10] Moreover, Hendry has argued that Japan has (somehow) managed to maintain face-to-face interaction of the type 'characterised by small-scale societies on which anthropologists are trained.'[11] And Rosenberger suggests that 'Japanese selfhood' is only slowly processing towards the separate/essentialist ideology of 'the West.'[12] Finally, Kondo, in a work which otherwise breaks new ground, regurgitates all the old arguments for a relationally/contextually defined 'Japanese self' defined by obligations to and relations with others.[13] Such arguments, which tend to suggest that this 'Japanese sense of self' is somehow more strongly rooted in social relations and less 'fixed' than the 'Western' sense of self, are clearly dependent on binary oppositions - like self/other and West/non-West, not to mention a whole array of emic sets like omote and ura - implicit within the concept of 'culture'.
  4. The problem with such arguments is not their theorising on identity (as multiple and relational) but the suggestion that this kind of identity is characteristic of one (undefined) national group and of that group only. The reality is, of course, that there is greater diversity within any one group than between different groups (see also endnote 64). A much more interesting approach would be to ask how the boundaries around such 'groups' are constructed in the first place and why certain group memberships - particularly national ones - are given priority over others. But still labels such as 'Japanese culture' and 'the Japanese' continue to be used and remain the biggest stumbling blocks to understanding Japan in all its complexity. By tacitly equating 'culture' with 'national culture' and focusing on national Discourses at the expense of local and global ones, such labels also implicitly reinforce the two central tenets of the NihonjinronDiscourse,[14] namely that Japanese society is 'uniquely' unique and group orientation is the dominant cultural pattern which shapes behaviour. Such labels enforce the distinction between childhood socialisation ('enculturation') and adult socialisation ('acculturation') that is often made. Tsurumi, for example, criticises the emphasis put on early childhood 'socialisation', a 'basic personality' (or 'personality and culture') approach in which the child's passive internalisation of basic norms and values of its birth society is relatively fixed, uniform, and conflict-free.[15] 'According to this view', she argues, 'if one investigates the child-rearing habits of a society, one can tell the personality structure of the majority of the population.'[16] Bourdieu criticises this 'basic personality' approach for its tendency 'to define personality as a miniature replica (obtained by moulding) of the 'culture', to be found in all members of the same society, except deviants.'[17]
  5. A number of scholars have looked to Foucault as a way of escaping the culture construct. Lindstrom is one example of a scholar using Foucault's notion of 'subjectification' as a replacement for traditional anthropological labels such as 'enculturation' and 'socialisation' which are concerned with how one becomes human by learning a 'culture'.[18] But the scholar who has done the most to promote the use of Discourse as a way of removing and getting beyond 'culture' is Abu-Lughod. In her earlier work, she discusses some of the limitations of anthropological theorists like Geertz and Bourdieu, particularly their failure to account for the co-existence of contradictory Discourses (evident when the same individual speaks in different contexts) and deal with historical transformation.[19] She presents Foucauldian notions of Discourse and Discursive formations as provocative and potentially fruitful theoretical alternatives that anthropologists have only just begun to explore. But it is in her paper, 'Writing against Culture', that she takes up the challenge she had earlier set herself.[20] Her argument is that anthropology is built on the historically constructed divide between the West and the non-West—between self and other—a hierarchical distinction which is dependent on the notion of 'culture'.[21] For Abu-Lughod, then, 'culture', operating as it does to freeze differences and enforce separation, needs to be reconsidered.

    Foucault, Discourse and Subjectification
  6. Foucauldian concepts like subjectification and Discourse are one way of avoiding the problems surrounding the term 'culture'—problems which though well documented,[22] still seem to plague scholarly work on Japan. Perhaps one reason for the continued reluctance—in Japanese Studies and elsewhere—to replace clearly problematic notions of 'culture' with Discourse is the misconception that Foucault's schema somehow 'erases' or 'deletes' the creative/individual/speaking subject.[23] However, the process of subjectification—how people become subjects—is in actuality central to his schema. 'I wanted not to exclude the problem of the subject', Foucault explains, 'but to define the positions and functions that the subject could occupy in the diversity of discourse.'[24]
  7. In order to understand Foucault's position on the subject, it is first important to note that poststructuralism typically challenges the Enlightenment-inspired rational autonomous speaking subject, [25] what Poster calls 'a neutral contextless 'transcendental ego' capable of determining truth.'[26] Foucault demonstrates a shared concern with other poststructuralist writers (such as Kondo) in his refusal to privilege the (speaking/knowing/observing) sovereign subject.[27] By consciously avoiding giving primacy to the ideas of 'the individual', Foucault challenges the 'truth' of individual creativity and the personal origins of meaning.[28] 'In short, the subject (and its substitutes) must', Foucault explains, 'be stripped of its creative role and analysed as a complex and variable function of discourse.'[29] The kinds of questions Foucault considers important, then, are framed not in terms of authors, authenticity, or origins/originality, but in terms of Discursive functions, forms, and practice. 'It seems to me', writes Foucault, 'that the historical analysis of scientific discourse should, in the last resort, be subject, not to a theory of the knowing subject, but rather to a theory of discursive practice.'[30]
  8. This does not, however, mean that the subject ('the soul') is illusory. 'It would be wrong to say that the soul is an illusion, or an ideological effect', writes Foucault, '[o]n the contrary it exists, it has a reality, it is produced permanently around, on, within the body by the functioning of power.'[31] Foucault makes it clear that, while harbouring suspicions concerning the absolute nature and creative role of the subject, this does not mean that the role of the subject should be entirely abandoned altogether - rather it should be reconsidered.[32] Foucault, therefore, is interested in the conditions that enable subjects to 'appear', the positions they can/may/cannot occupy, and the functions they exhibit. In other words, Foucault is interested in how people become subjects, what he calls subjection or subjugation:

      Let us not, therefore, ask why certain people want to dominate, what they seek, what is their overall strategy. Let us ask, instead, how things work at the level of on-going subjugation, at the level of those continuous and uninterrupted processes which subject our bodies, govern our gestures, dictate our behaviours etc.[33]

  9. Unfortunately, both subjection and subjugation have connotations of domination, that conjure up images of the processes involved in making someone subservient or submissive. Considering Foucault's notion of power as omnipresent, capillary and ubiquitous,[34] the term 'subjectification' might better describe the process of how power brings subjects into being, as well as more fully acknowledging the dynamic and volatile nature of subject construction.[35] For Foucault, then, the 'subject' is 'not the speaking consciousness, not the author of the formulation, but a position that may be filled in certain conditions by various individuals.'[36] This is strikingly similar to Kondo's description of her informants constantly trying to nudge her into appropriate roles or 'ready-made molds'.[37] Both Foucault and Kondo are in fact arguing for a conception of identity that challenges the illusory Enlightenment-inspired idea of a unitary/whole subject and the boundedness and fixity of personal identity. The only difference is that Kondo's failure to get beyond 'culture' severely limits her conception of such a relationally/contextually defined self.
  10. Before turning to feminist theory it is important to dismiss another common criticism of Foucault that often overshadows more serious failings. This refers to Foucault's apparent neglect of resistance. A brief flick through some of Foucault's work is enough to ascertain that although agency is clearly not a Foucauldian term, intervention most certainly is. 'I have not denied—far from it—the possibility of changing discourse:', Foucault reminds us, 'I have deprived the sovereignty of the subject of the exclusive and instantaneous right to it.'[38] His formulation of power, not as something possessed by some and not others, but as ubiquitous and capillary, can be seen as liberating: 'not only do individuals circulate between its threads; they are always in the position of simultaneously undergoing and exercising this power. They are not only its inert or consenting target; they are always also the elements of its articulation.'[39] Indeed, the premise that power can be understood only in the context of resistance[40] i.e. that Discourses are never, by their very nature, absolute but inevitably generate resistance,[41] would seem to be integral to Foucault's definition of Discourse as:

      both an instrument and an effect of power, but also a hindrance, a stumbling block, a point of resistance and a starting point for an opposing strategy. Discourse transmits and produces power; it reinforces it, but also undermines and exposes it, renders it fragile and makes it possible to thwart...[42]

  11. Taken together with the fact that one of Foucault's central metaphors is of war, conflict, struggle, or battle, the criticism of neglect seems not a little unfair. Thus, when Kondo states that hegemonies are 'never simply put into place but are always contested and therefore must always be reasserted'[43] she is echoing the Foucauldian project. In a comment that, as I shall explain later, closely echoes the feminist project, Foucault points out that Discourse 'from the moment of its existence' poses the question of power and 'is, by its nature, the object of struggle, a political struggle.'[44] But while resistance (or 'reverse-discourse') is undeniably an integral part of Foucault's schema, the position of subjectivity (in the feminist sense) is less clear.

    Feminism, Foucault and Subjectivity
  12. Foucault and feminism share a number of concerns that belie their apparent incompatibility. Not only is the relationship between the individual and the social central to both, but the two also share a mutual interest in the multiplicity of (and resistance to) power relations. Unfortunately, as McHoul and Grace argue, much feminist criticism and analysis of Foucault's work often appear to have misinterpreted, misunderstood, and missed the radical content of much of what he was trying to say.[45] In particular, criticisms that Foucault somehow deletes or erases the subject or refuses the possibility of resistance often overshadow more valid criticisms relating to his treatment of subjectivity.
  13. Although Foucault's schema neither erases the subject nor neglects resistance, his treatment of subjectivity is more questionable. Indeed, the central criticism of Foucault's work is that it is over-totalising: there is nothing outside Discourse that comes to constitute objects and subjects. The problem is perhaps that his analysis stops short of the emancipatory intent of other critiques of power. As Edward Said reminds us:

      Foucault's imagination of power is largely within rather than against it.... His interest in domination was critical but not finally as contestatory, or as oppositional as on the surface it seems to be. This translates into the paradox that Foucault's imagination of power was by his analysis of power to reveal its injustice and cruelty, but by his theorization to let it go more or less unchecked...[46]

  14. The failure to address whether there is anything 'outside' Discourse—a failure to distinguish what is inside and what is outside the Discourse—is precisely the question feminism attempts to address. Ashcroft et al., while pointing out that the fact that the process of subject construction by Discourse can be recognised (as in this essay) means it can be contested, leave open the question of whether the subject can do so in isolation from the social construction and political organisation of resistance i.e. 'outside' of the Discourse.[47] On the other hand, Foucault, although at one point mysteriously suggesting that institutions could be considered part of a 'non-discursive domain',[48] is generally very clear on this point:

      It seems to me that power is 'always already there', that one is never 'outside' it, that there are no 'margins' for those who break the system to gambol in. But this does not entail the necessity of accepting an inescapable form of domination or an absolute privilege on the side of the law. To say that one can never be 'outside' power does not mean that one is trapped and condemned to defeat no matter what.[49]

  15. However, if people can become literate in and deploy, trapped inside, or even be excluded from particular Discourses, then this would seem to imply positions outside Discourse. Moreover, Foucault's schema does appear to present an inescapable form of domination, since resistance becomes limited to a 'reverse-discourse'[50] which, while appearing to challenge the Discourse, by using the same vocabulary and categories, is actually reinforcing and compounding it.[51] And if all Discourses (re)present the 'truth', then all interventions of the individual 'against' the system[52] remain misrepresentations. To quote Said again:

      the real issue is whether indeed there can be a true representation of anything, or whether any and all representations, because they are representations, are embedded first in the language and then in the culture, institutions, and political ambience of the representer.[53]

  16. Ultimately, it is the refusal to succumb to either the inevitability of misrepresentation or the impossibility of letting people's 'narratives be heard'[54] that distinguishes feminism's (and also Said's) humanistic project from the philosophical anti-humanism of Foucault.
  17. The crux of the issue is that Discourse appears prohibitively proscriptive. 'In the end, we are judged', writes Foucault, 'condemned, classified, determined in our undertakings, destined to a certain mode of living or dying, as a function of the true discourses which are the bearers of the specific effects of power.'[55] This image of our fates being mapped out from the start—the human subject being produced through rules and codes in what Foucault himself dubbed the 'death of man [sic]'[56]—appears fatalistic. 'There is a certain inevitability and fatalism about this vision of society', writes Brooker, 'which does not allow much space for resistance.'[57] There is indeed a totalising, all-encompassing, over-simplifying aspect to Foucault in which particular metaphors—such as 'panoptic' surveillance—come to describe the whole of society:

      Of course, almost all contemporary discussion of discourse stresses—and herein lies its appearance of great explanatory power—that it imposes a total milieu, institutional as well as intellectual and informational, to whose hegemonic sway its subjects must inevitably succumb.... The problem with the argument as it is more generally employed, rather, is its tendency to assume that discourses have an existence which is prior to, and hence unsullied by, the interventions of those over whom they are to have jurisdiction.... [The] sense of mutuality—not as common contribution, but as struggle and contestation ... is missing from much contemporary discussion of discourse, with its assumption that new fields of knowledge had only to be enunciated, for them to elicit mute obedience from those they purported to know. It is, indeed, this lack of any exploration of the theme of simultaneity and struggle which is responsible for the criticism most frequently levelled at Foucault's own conception: that it allows no room and no possibility for resistance to the fine meshes of knowledge's disciplinary and normalizing power.[58]

  18. It is important to remember that it is not that resistance is absent in Foucault's schema. As I showed earlier, resistance is the 'compatriot' of power[59], but for Foucault resistance is never in a position of exteriority in relation to power.[60] The same move which suspends reference to the speaking subject also deprives his subject of 'natural' creativity, desire, interests, affections and impulses—all qualities which Foucault sees as Discursively produced within a social order. Such a 'half-way, crab-wise aestheticising move,' as Eagleton calls it, somehow leaves the subject incomplete and unfinished, suggesting that Foucault 'still cannot quite bring himself to address the subject as such.'[61]
  19. The question arises, then, whether such manoeuvrings do not somehow also deprive the subject of their subjectivity, the ways (to paraphrase Ram) people conceptualise, understand, or simply make sense of their own history,[62] experiences or place in the world. Foucault does claim that while his project aims 'to free history from the grip of phenomenology'[63] he does not accept the structuralist idea of freeing the history of thought 'from all taint of subjectivity'. But quite what he means by subjectivity is unclear. It is difficult to escape from the impression that for Foucault Discourse is all there is, that power is the 'bottom line', that there is nothing, no alternative knowledges, outside relations of power.[64] In focusing on how the self is discursively produced through both external and internal regulations he is effectively establishing the limits of (or centralising) subjectivity. In his conclusion to the Archaeology of Knowledge, while arguing that Discursive practices are less limitations imposed on the initiative of subjects than conditions of possibility,[65] he also admits to the irritation and unease generated by such a schema:

      I know how irritating it can be to treat discourses in terms not of the gentle, silent, intimate consciousness that is expressed in them, but of an obscure set of anonymous rules.... Must I suppose that in my discourse I can have no survival? And that in speaking I am not banishing my death, but actually establishing it[?] ... I understand the unease of all such people. They have probably found it difficult enough to recognize that their history ... their social practices ... are governed by rules that are not at all given to their consciousness.[66]

  20. It is feminism's ability to articulate such irritation and unease that ultimately enables it to challenge the limits of subjectivity. While Foucault shows little interest in female subjectivity and the continuity of male domination in society[67]—suggesting a covert androcentricity[68]—feminist theorists take these issues as the starting point and seek to reconstitute those subjectivities of women who have fallen between the threads of power. If less-powerful individuals do not (or refuse to) fit in with the stereotypes and language of Discourse ('the truth') they become consigned to the extra-Discursive domain, denied of the right to make sense or even speak at all in their own words. Cameron refers to this as being 'written out' of speaking positions due to language construction.[69] Those so written out become unrepresentable, invisible, beyond the pale of comprehension and reason:[70] symbolically annihilated, they no longer 'exist'.[71]
  21. The idea that power is the 'bottom line', that it is not possible to slip an internal voice or hidden soul (subject) underneath or outside power relations leads to feminism's central criticism: that Foucault underplays the transformative potential of human agency by centralising and establishing the limits of subjectivity itself.[72] 'Subsuming all reality under discourse, as Foucault does', argues Lazreg, 'has resulted in a shift of focus from women's lived reality to endless discoursing about it.'[73] In this way, Foucault's view of the subject, as constructed by and within external forces of sociality (reminiscent of Giddens' 'contingent subject'[74]), fails to address the notion of the 'transformative subject'.[75] In short, Foucault does not discriminate sufficiently between resistance to power and the ability to transform power relations.[76]
  22. A neglect of subjectivity, that mode of self-conscious awareness central to transforming power relations, is not just a characteristic of Foucault but of poststructuralism in general. As poststructuralism took root, the focus on problems of representation that is the movement's raison d'être ironically resulted in the 'disappearance' of the subject:

      [T]he particular poststructuralist move ... paradoxically destroys the object (the subject) who should be enriched, rather than impoverished by this act of introducing complexity.... The whole point of the poststructuralist move is to de-essentialize the subject, to get away from the ideological construct of 'that unified and freely choosing individual who is the normative male subject of Western bourgeois liberalism'... The question here, however, is how to get around this ideological construct and yet retain some sense of human agency, the capacity of social beings to interpret and morally evaluate their situation and to formulate projects and try to enact them ... the ability of social beings to weave alternative, and sometimes brilliantly creative, forms of coherence across the damages is one of the heartening aspects of human subjectivity.[77]

  23. In other words, the poststructuralist questioning of rationalist essentialised views of the unitary subject actually culminated in a 'crisis of representation'[78] that, by making scholars scared of saying anything at all, let the subject dissolve into silence altogether.[79] As Benita Parry has argued, by focusing on the deconstruction of the colonialist text, Discourse analysts like Spivak and Bhabha have effectively erased the voice of the native, obliterated his or her subject positions, written out historical evidence of agency, and limited possibilities for resistance.[80] '[B]ecause their theses admit of no point outside of discourse from which opposition can be engendered', Parry points out, 'their project is concerned to place incendiary devices within the dominant structures of representation and not to confront these with another knowledge.'[81]
  24. In reaction, theorists, particularly certain feminist theorists, have attempted to recover the subject and 'subjectivity'. The latter in particular has become associated with a specific (feminist) agenda. Chris Weedon, one of the best known scholars working in the feminist poststructuralist tradition, has sought to integrate individual experience and social power in a theory of subjectivity.[82] Weedon defines subjectivity as 'the conscious and unconscious thoughts and emotions of the individual, her sense of herself, and her ways of understanding her relation to the world.'[83] Weedon, as with many poststructuralists,[84] views the subject as multiple and non-unitary, and subjectivity as a site of struggle, both actively and passively (re)produced in a variety of social sites all of which are structured by relations of power in which the individual is constantly taking up (and being hailed to) different subject positions or social roles. In other words, by arguing that a Discursive framework in no way dissolves the agency of the human subject, Weedon demonstrates a certain sympathy with Foucault. As she puts it::

      Although the subject ... is socially constructed in discursive practices, she none the less exists as a thinking, feeling and social subject and agent, capable of resistance and innovations produced out of the clash between contradictory subject positions and

  25. However, as with Parry, Weedon's feminism forces her to confront the dominant patriarchal Discourses of representation with other, woman-centred knowledges that appear to be extra-Discursive. Women's experiences suggest that men do have power and (forcefully) dominate women: 'this domination cannot be seen simply as a product of discourse, because it must also be understood as "extra-discursive" or relating to wider realities than those of discourse.'[86]

    Bridging Foucault and Feminism
  26. The emphasis on experience in many (though not all) feminist (re)constructions of subjectivity may at first appear incompatible with Foucauldian theory. Clearly, Foucault's underplaying of experience stems from his critique of the (Cartesian/phenomenological) 'subject of experience'. Turning things around, Foucault would probably want to know why such a version of the subject is crucial to feminism and whether a re-thinking is not necessary to bring it more in line with his own version of the subject.[87] Such a question demands a paper in its own right; for the moment, the intention is to trace those commonalities that exist between Foucault and feminism, particularly those that relate to the issue of power. As Mascia-Lees et al., point out, looking at experience requires one inevitably to address questions of power and political struggle[88]: 'Feminist scholarship,' notes Johnson, 'is thus inscribed in relations of power.'[89] Similarly, Foucault is centrally concerned with how power produces knowledge and defines 'truth', thereby constraining the ways the world can be seen, known, and talked about. In this way, Foucauldian Discourse and Feminist Subjectivity are perhaps less 'oppositions' (a term rooted in the very masculinist hierarchic knowledge-making that is being deconstructed) and more compatriots approaching a problem from different but complimentary angles. 'Feminism can challenge the terms of this dichotomy,' notes Ransom, 'by a different route than Foucault.'[90]
  27. It would seem that what I have been calling subjectivity is not necessarily incompatible with the kinds of Discursive identities with which Foucault concerns himself. In fact subjectivity - that is 'self' as a personal reflective intrapsychic structure that is only knowable by the person to whom it belongs[91]—has long been distinguished from Discourse—traditionally referred to as 'social' (or 'cultural'[92]) identity, that is the face that is publicly displayed or presented via social roles. Unfortunately, within the traditional personal vs social distinction, terminological confusion is rife, with theories of identity tending to distinguish between these two forms in confusing ways. For example, Mauss argues for a developmental sequence from the self/individual to the person, Mead talks of the personal 'I' and the social 'me' carrying out an inner dialogue, Hollan distinguishes the experiential self from the cultural model of the self,[93] Goffman highlights the difference between the self and the presentation, while Lebra draws a line between the inner and the interactional self.[94] What is confusing is how such theories typically distinguish between those dominant Discourses acquired during childhood and those social roles that we switch between in adulthood. For example, Tamura claims in her study of the Japanese war-brides who came to Australia, that while the brides' 'inner selves'—their sense of being 'Japanese women'—remained relatively unaffected, their 'interactive' selves were changed through the experience of migration.[95] In this view, becoming an adult is a matter of learning how to manage the dialogue between the two, especially the suppressing of the former for the sake of the latter.[96]
  28. However, as pointed out earlier, not only is the distinction between 'enculturation' and 'acculturation' arbitrary and unhelpful, but the status given to national cultural identity as a kind of inner, core, or essential identity over and above other forms of identity is problematic. If the distinction between personal and social identity is to be maintained,[97] the latter would be better referring to all those roles or faces (Discourses), including national ones, that we bear and discard at different times throughout life in order to make sense of one another in the contexts we share. That would leave personal identity as those inner psychological structures, including innate personality traits (endnote 64), through which people make sense of, organise, and conceptualise their (his)stories and experiences. There is not so much a dialogue as a tension between the two. There is always a dissonance or misfit between them— just as the meaning of words is never fixed but always remains unstable. Commonalties between people emerge as individual subjectivities lock onto other individual subjectivities and a collective subjectivity (a new Discourse) is formed, but this is always temporary and fleeting. In a recent study of power and identity construction of Japanese women,[98] for example, no single woman was found to identify herself completely with another woman. The trick is in trafficking the tension: the over-conformist becomes a caricature, isolated from their inner self, while the non-conformist (whether hermit, eccentric, or ignorant newcomer) is equally isolated by the lack of social anchors necessary to create meaning. To paraphrase Ransom, the process of achieving full human dignity requires neither the destruction of our varied 'cultural' nor the destruction of our individual identities.[99]
  29. I have demonstrated in practice, then, how Foucault and Feminism can be bridged to produce a useful model of identity (re)construction. Discourse makes subjectivity possible: 'a unique sense of self is often produced by a painful struggle with the discourse of others.'[100] Context together with personality determine which identities are foregrounded at any one time, much like Tajfel's characterisation of relationships as varying in 'interpersonalness' or 'intergroupness'[101] or Brewer's argument that social identity derives from a fundamental tension between the human need for uniqueness and individuation and the countervailing need for validation/similarity to others.[102] The ways subjectivity and Discourse variously combine to produce identities that continually appear and fade varies greatly according to both individuals and specific social circumstances,[103] the latter including the pervasiveness and sophistication of forms of control and regimentation that disseminate Discourses. There is no need to choose one over the other, no inherent contradiction between subjectivity and Discourse. This is clear from Hall's analytic framework,[104] which combines Foucauldian Discursive formations with a psychoanalytical approach, largely based on Judith Butler's work on recovering subjectivity.[105] In Stuart Hall's framework, identity is constructed at the point of intersection (or 'suture') between external Discourses and practices and the internal psychic processes that produce subjectivities—with the subject choosing to identify partly, wholly, or not at all with the 'positions to which they are summoned'.[106] '[T]he question, and the theorisation, of identity', Hall concludes, '... is only likely to be advanced when both the necessity and the "impossibility" of identities, and the suturing of the psychic and the discursive in their constitution, are fully and unambiguously acknowledged.'[107]

    In the field: Foucauldian and Feminist theory and its applicability in the Japanese context
  30. Papers can take on a very different complexion when data starts driving the theory rather than vice-versa. While Foucault and Feminism—coupled with Hall's analytic framework—appear together to offer a theory of subject construction with definite possibilities for understanding those people moving within, without, or between the cracks of the body known as 'Japan', things can change dramatically when fieldwork replaces library work. Although my own fieldwork is still ongoing and the comments here are only preliminary, in the final part of this essay it would seem important to show how Japan (or indeed the 'real person' in any other place) fits into what has up to now been a somewhat abstract and theoretically dense discussion on identity.
  31. As mentioned in paragraph 1, as part of my doctoral research I am currently in Yamagata Prefecture in northeast Japan studying the subject construction of long-term foreign residents. The theoretical background outlined above suggested a two-pronged approach which analyses a particular Discursive environment at the same time as collecting individual narratives or life-stories. Such an approach corresponds with Foucault's demand that we describe both the institutional sites from which Discourse is made and the individual sites of (re)construction and negotiation themselves.[108] In practice, this has meant ,working closely with various local support organisations at the same time as interviewing individuals (mostly foreign brides) using a narrativist approach, as well as more structured interviews with public officials, Japanese language teachers, and other relevant individuals.[109] Individual voice was to be treated as 'a site of struggle where the subjectivity of the language-user confronts the conditions of possibility formulated between language and discourse'.[110] The study was intended to be an examination of narratives, both the grand narratives (Discourses) that subjects are exposed to and what Lyotard calls the 'little narratives' that subjects construct in negotiating with, making sense of, and exploiting the grand narratives.[111]
  32. So far there have been several surprises.[112] The first was a complete lack of any language of resistance. I was aware of the danger of romanticising resistance and how such an idea is rooted in the 'violence' of poststructuralist (and particularly Foucauldian) language,[113] but I still somehow expected my subjects to be valiantly resisting or rebelling against the dominant Discourses that 'held them down'. Instead, they talked about doing something useful, contributing to society, making a difference, of creating their own space or place in society. They did this not through resisting the Discourses they were currently exposed to (such as bride, daughter-in-law, or foreigner) but through actively creating new roles or Discourses—pickle-maker, restaurateur, worker, volunteer, entrepreneur, cultural ambassador, gardener, translator—for themselves. The idea of empowerment, with its connotations of self-change, of making goals reality, and most importantly of action, suddenly seemed much more appropriate and at the same time offered new ways of working with Foucault and feminism.
  33. This first 'field-shock' was linked to the wider issue of binary oppositions. Although I had already discarded the term 'culture' due to its tendency to perpetuate various hierarchical distinctions, I was much more deeply embedded than I ever realised in a Enlightenment based rationalism—what feminists would call masculinist hierarchic knowledge-making—that was quick to conflate relation into opposition. Although some would argue that this is a 'western' trait, I would argue that it is rather a feature of the global academic Discourse in general. One of the advantages of working in the field—whether a working-class suburb in metropolitan Australia or a small village in rural Japan—is that one comes to realise the language of one Discourse (such as academia) may be inappropriate to describe the experiences of individuals operating in other Discourses. When my subjects spoke, for example, I found it frustratingly impossible to detach the role from the individual—the social from the personal. I was looking for binary oppositions that did not exist. I slowly realised that it is not that a certain model is only relevant within a 'western context' nor that different contexts (such as Japan) require different models. It is perhaps more the case that a certain distance from our home Discourse is often useful (but by no means necessary) in revealing the illusion of the 'whole subject' or the unitary 'I' and recognising the ambiguities, complexities, and negotiations of identity. The problem remaining is how to translate all that I am learning in the field back into the language of academia—language that is, moreover, acceptable to an examiner—without losing the meaning altogether.
  34. These preliminary insights have been made possible by the opportunities offered in the field to expand my repertoire of roles (or Discourses) beyond that of 'academic'—with the 'correct' ways of thinking, doing, and speaking that role entails—to teacher, student, volunteer, foreigner, son-in-law, and various others. They also raise the crucial question of my own place or subject position (subjectivity) in the process of 'reading' and re-writing the material I gather from my informants. As a work in progress, such insights are presented here as a means of suggesting both the applicability and the potential problems of using a blend of Foucauldian and feminist theories in the Japanese (or, indeed, any other) context. These preliminary insights have been made possible by the opportunities offered in the field to expand my repertoire of roles (or Discourses) beyond that of 'academic'—with the 'correct' ways of thinking, doing, and speaking that role entails—to teacher, student, volunteer, foreigner, son-in-law, and various others. Although incomplete, they do suggest, I hope, both the applicability and the potential problems of using a blend of Foucauldian and feminist theories in the Japanese (or, indeed, any other) context.

  35. This paper opened with a quote from Kalpana Ram expressing her irritation at the gap she felt opening up between her own subjectivity on the one hand, and social systems and institutions of thought on the other. Other feminists, such as Deborah Cameron,[114] have described similar feelings of dissonance between private and public ways of conversation. The ensuing discussion was an attempt not to synthesise but to bridge these different forms of identity. Feminism has clearly played a crucial role in 'recovering' (or perhaps, more accurately, reconstituting) the subject by recognising the importance of human experience in making sense of the world. In other words, feminism's power-oriented focus on the everyday direct lived-experience of individuals in their worlds—its capacity to confront dominant systems of knowledge with other knowledges outside of Discourse—is the key to its ability to traffic the tension between subjectivity and Discourse. Such a perspective also facilitates reflection on the complex relationship between data and theory. The increasing realisation of the multiple and shifting identities that exist within the group 'women' and within the borders of that country called 'Japan' suggest that Foucault and feminism can usefully work together in helping us better understand how people, to paraphrase Abu-Lughod,[115] become selves and subjects, rather than objects and scholars' others.


    [1] Kalpana Ram, 'Too 'Traditional' Once Again: Some Poststructuralists on the Aspirations of the Immigrant/Third Word Female Subject', in Australian Feminist Studies 17 (1993): 5-28, p. 5.

    [2] I write Foucauldian Discourse with a capital letter, following Gee, to distinguish it from discourse in the linguistic/rhetorical sense, 'discourse' with a small 'd' being part of 'Discourse' with a capital 'D': James Paul Gee, 'Literacy, Discourse, and Linguistics: Introduction', Journal of Education 171, 1 (1989): 5-17, p. 6. However, it is important to note that Foucault himself continues to write Discourse with a small 'd' despite acknowledging the dissonance between his own use (what I call Discourse) and current popular usage (discourse): Michel Foucault, The Archeology of Knowledge, [Fr 1969] , London: Tavistock Publications, 1972, p. 108. Although some may see this use of upper case analytical frame as yet another example of the masculinist will to power through an all encompassing grand-narrative, the remainder of this essay should make it clear that, although the capital 'D' is crucial for conceptual clarity, I am using Discourse as a conceptual tool that produces only partial and incomplete knowledge.

    [3] Clearly, it is now more common to talk of 'feminisms' rather than feminism in recognition of the multiplicities of the philosophies and politics involved. Nevertheless, I keep the term feminism, not as a way of generalising about women, but as a way of generalising about the kinds of strategies and approaches that have been adopted by various women's movements.

    [4] Kathleen Weiler, Women Teaching for Change: Gender, Class, and Power, New York: Bergin and Garvey, 1988.

    [5] Caroline Ramazanoglu, 'Introduction', in Up Against Foucault: Explorations of Some Tensions between Foucault and Feminism, ed. Caroline Ramazanoglu, London and New York: Routledge, 1993, pp. 1-25, p. 22.

    [6] Nicholas Abercombe, Stephen Hill, and Bryan S. Turner, The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology [4th edition], London: Penguin Books, 2000, p. 99.

    [7] Keiko Tamura, 'Border Crossings: Japanese War Brides and their Selfhood,' Ph.D. thesis, Canberra: Australian National University, 1999, p. 18.

    [8] Robert J. Smith, Japanese Society: Tradition, Self, and the Social Order, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983; Takie Sugiyama Lebra, Japanese Patterns of Behaviour, Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1976.

    [9] The almost mystical, undoubtedly Whorfian inspired, significance given to the Japanese personal pronoun in discussions on 'Japanese selfhood' is remarkable: See Dorinne K. Kondo, Crafting Selves: Power, Gender, and Identity in a Japanese Workplace, Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1990; Takao Suzuki, Japan and the Japanese, Tokyo: Koudansha, 1978; Jane Bachnik, 'Kejime: Defining a Shifting Self in Multiple Organizational Modes', in Japanese Sense of Self, ed. Nancy Rosenberger, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992, pp. 152-72. Discourse with a capital 'D' helps get beyond the obsession with language by showing that meaning is more than the play of signs encompassing as it does a whole identity-kit of extra-linguistic elements. See Foucault, The Archeology of Knowledge, p. 49.

    [10] Jane Bachnik, 'Time, Space, and Person in Japanese Relationships', in Interpreting Japanese Society: Anthropological Approaches, ed. Joy Hendry and Jonathan Webber, Oxford: JASO, 1986, pp. 49-75.

    [11] Joy Hendry, 'Introduction: The Contribution of Social Anthropology to Japanese Studies', in Interpreting Japanese Society: Anthropological Approaches, ed. Joy Hendry and Jonathan Webber, Oxford: JASO, 1986, pp. 3-13, p. 10.

    [12] Rosenberger, Japanese Sense of Self.

    [13] Kondo, Crafting Selves.

    [14] Ross Mouer, and Yoshio Sugimoto, Images of Japanese Society: A Study on the Structure of Social Reality, London and New York: Paul Keegan International, 1986, p. 406.

    [15] Kazuko Tsurumi, Social Change and the Individual: Japan Before and After Defeat in World War II, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1970.

    [16] Tsurumi, Social Change and the Individual, p. 394.

    [17] Pierre Bourdieu, Outline of a Theory of Practice, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977, p. 84.

    [18] Lamont Lindstrom, Knowledge and Power in a South Pacific Society, Washington and London: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1990, p. 17.

    [19] Lila Abu-Lughod, 'Zones of Theory in the Anthropology of the Arab World,' Annual Review of Anthropology 18 (1989): 267-306, pp. 274-75.

    [20] Lila Abu-Lughod, 'Writing Against Culture', in Recapturing Anthropology: Working in the Present, ed. Richard G. Fox, Santa Fe, New Mexico: School of American Research Press, 1991, pp. 137-62.

    [21] Ong raises an almost identical point, in her discussion of how the traditional anthropological concept of 'culture' may have influenced recent 'West versus the Rest' debates. Aihwa Ong, 'Clash of Civilizations or Asian Liberalism? An Anthropology of the State and Citizenship,' in Anthropological Theory Today, ed. Henrietta L. Moore, Cambridge: Polity Press, 1999, pp. 49-72.

    [22] See for example Roger M. Keesing, 'Asian Cultures?' in Asian Studies Review 15, 2 (1991): 43-50; Tessa Morris-Suzuki, Re-Inventing Japan: Time, Space, Nation, Armonk, New York: M.E. Sharpe, 1998.

    [23] Although Foucault's work is based on historical texts rather than the conditions of possibility for subjects in contemporary social settings, some researchers have shown how Discursive rules may be studied using interviews, observational techniques, and tape-recorded data, even though the vast majority of these have remained close to Foucault's own analyses of clinics, prisons, and sexuality. In Japanese Studies, Lock's paper on the medicalisation of the female life cycle (and the ways women 'push back') follows this pattern. See Margaret Lock, 'Ideology, Female Midlife, and the Greying of Japan', in Journal of Japanese Studies 19, 1 (1993): 43-78. Chapman and Hartley's research on Australian university students' homestay experiences in Japan is one of the few studies in the field that explicitly adopts a Discursive framework, though their use of 'best quotes' and the sharp stereotypes that emerge from student reports suggest preconceived ideas of which 'Discourses' they were looking for. See David Chapman, and Barbara Hartley, 'Close Encounters of the Unhomely Kind: Negotiating Identity and Japan Literacy', Japanese Studies: The Bulletin of the Japanese Studies Association of Australia 20, 3 (2000): 269-79.

    [24] Foucault, The Archeology of Knowledge, p. 200.

    [25] Although Foucault refused the poststructuralist label as he did the structuralist (even describing himself as 'anti-structuralist' at one point), it would not seem unfair to consider him a poststructuralist writer bearing in mind how he was influenced by and reacted against the formalism of structural linguistics and the figure of the epistemological subject. See Michel Foucault, The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences [Fr 1966], London and New York: Tavistock Publications, 1970, p. xiv; Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972-1977, Hemel Hempstead: The Harvester Press, 1980 p. 114; Mark Poster, Critical Theory and Poststructuralism: In Search of a Context, Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1989, pp. 1-4.

    [26] Poster, Critical Theory and Poststructuralism, p. 5.

    [27] Foucault, The Archeology of Knowledge, p. 122; Michel Foucault, 'What is an Author?', in Language, Counter-Memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews, ed. Donald F. Bouchard, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1977, pp. 113-38, p. 137.

    [28] Lindstrom, Knowledge and Power, p. 18.

    [29] Foucault, 'What is an Author?' p. 138.

    [30] Foucault, The Order of Things, p. xiv.

    [31] Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison [Fr 1975] , London: Allen Lane, 1977, p. 29.

    [32] Foucault, 'What is an Author?' p. 137.

    [33] Foucault, Power/Knowledge, p. 97.

    [34] Foucault, Power/Knowledge, p. 98.

    [35] Judith Butler, Bodies that matter: on the discursive limits of 'sex', New York: Routledge, 1993, p. 105.

    [36] Foucault, The Archeology of Knowledge, p. 115.

    [37] Kondo, Crafting Selves, pp. 13-14.

    [38] Foucault, The Archeology of Knowledge, p. 209.

    [39] Foucault, Power/Knowledge, p. 98.

    [40] Chandra Talpade Mohanty, 'Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses', in Third World Women and the Practice of Feminism, ed. Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Ann Russo, and Lourdes Torres, Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1991, pp. 51-80, p. 73.

    [41] Nicki Saroca, 'Filipino Women, Sexual Politics, and the Gendered Racist Discourse of the Mail Order Bride', in Journal of Interdisciplinary Gender Studies 2, 2 (1997): 89-103, p. 98.

    [42] Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction [Fr 1976] , New York: Vintage Books, 1978, p. 101.

    [43] Kondo, Crafting Selves, p. 203.

    [44] Foucault, The Archeology of Knowledge, p. 120.

    [45] This argument is convincingly made in Alec McHoul, and Wendy Grace, A Foucault Primer: Discourse, Power, and the Subject, Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1993, pp. 119-25.

    [46] Edward Said, 'Foucault and the Imagination of Power', in Foucault: A Critical Reader, ed. David Couzens Hoy, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1986, pp. 149-55, p. 152.

    [47] Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin, Key Concepts in Post-Colonial Studies, London and New York: Routledge, 1998, p. 225.

    [48] Foucault, Power/Knowledge, pp. 197-98.

    [49] Foucault, Power/Knowledge, p. 142.

    [50] Foucault, The History of Sexuality. Although Terdiman argues that his notion of 'counter-discourse' actually offers the means of producing genuine change against the 'capacity of established discourses to ignore or absorb would-be subversion' ultimately he does not do enough to differentiate his concept from Foucault's notion of 'reverse-discourse'. See Richard Terdiman, Discourse/Counter-Discourse: The Theory and Practice of Symbolic Resistance in Nineteenth Century France, Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1985, p. 13.

    [51] Saroca, 'The Gendered Racist Discourse of the Mail Order Bride', p. 96.

    [52] Robert Young, White Mythologies: Writing History and the West, London: Routledge, 1990, p. 138.

    [53] Edward Said, Orientalism, New York: Vintage Books, 1978, p. 272.

    [54] Since Foucault's problematic does not concern the creative speaking sovereign subject, he uses narrative not in the sense of individual stories but as a description of power i.e. power consists of those tactical and resourceful techniques, practices, or narratives that we all possess and live. See Richard Appignanesi and Chris Garret, Postmodernism for Beginners, Cambridge: Icon Books, 1995, p. 87.

    [55] Foucault, Power/Knowledge, p. 94.

    [56] Foucault, The Order of Things, pp. 342, 383-87; K.M. Newton (ed.), Twentieth-Century Literary Theory: A Reader [2nd edition], Hampshire and London: Macmillan Press Ltd, 1997, p. 113.

    [57] Will Brooker, Teach Yourself Cultural Studies, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1998, p. 93.

    [58] Rosalin O'Hanlon, 'Recovering the Subject: Subaltern Studies and Histories of Resistance in Colonial South Asia', in Modern Asian Studies 22, 1 (1988): 189-224, pp. 216-17.

    [59] Foucault, Power/Knowledge, p. 142.

    [60] McHoul and Grace, A Foucault Primer, p. 84.

    [61] Terry Eagleton, The Ideology of the Aesthetic, Oxford: Blackwell, 1991, p. 395.

    [62] This is a little confusing and is better re-written as follows: Chamber's definition of history as 'an allegorical construction, as the constant return to the sense of our lives, our being' seems relevant: 'History comes to us,' he continues, 'not as raw, bleeding facts but in textual production, in narratives.' See Ian Chambers, 'Migrancy, Culture, Identity', in The Postmodern History Reader, ed. Keith Jenkins, London: Routledge, 1997, pp. 77-81.

    [63] Foucault, The Archeology of Knowledge, pp. 201-03.

    [64] The implication is that there is no pre-social self, an underlying assumption that is also common in the work of other social theorists such as Bourdieu and Mead. But although the child or individual 'small animal', to paraphrase Hall, is clearly not yet a subject, neither is it a blank screen. See Stuart Hall, 'Introduction: Who Needs Identity?', in Questions of Cultural Identity, ed. Stuart Hall and Paul Du Gay, London: Sage Publications, 1996, pp. 1-17, pp. 8-9. In this respect, the complete absence of reference to the mountain of research suggesting the strong genetic heritability of many psychological traits, including personality, is surprising to say the least. See Jerome H. Barkow, Leda Cosmides and John Tooby (eds), The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture, New York: Oxford University Press, 1992; Thomas J. Bouchard, David T. Lykken, Matthew McGue, Nancy L. Segal and Auke Tellegen, 'Sources of Human Psychological Differences: The Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart', Science 250 (1990): 223-28. One exception is Henshall, who notes how very recent research in genetics has shown a link between genes and behaviour/personality. See Kenneth G. Henshall, Dimensions of Japanese Society: Gender, Margins, and Mainstream, London: Macmillan Press Ltd, 1999, p. 170. Unfortunately, his connecting of this with the concept of '(Japanese) national character' reveals a failure to grasp, as Wilson points out, that the significant differences in behavioural genes between individuals within a particular society wash-out statistically between societies. See Edward O. Wilson, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, New York: Vintage Books, 1998, p. 155.

    [65] Foucault, The Archeology of Knowledge , pp. 208-09.

    [66] Foucault, The Archeology of Knowledge, pp. 210-11.

    [67] R. Diprose, 'Foucault, Derrida, and the Ethics of Sexual Difference', in Social Semiotics 1, 2 (1991): 95-103.

    [68] 'Kate Soper, 'Productive Contradictions', in Ramazanoglu Up Against Foucault, pp. 29-49.

    [69] Deborah Cameron, Feminism and Linguistic Theory [2nd edition], London: Macmillan Press Ltd, 1992.

    [70] Michel Foucault, 'The Order of Discourse (Inaugural Lecture at the College de France 2nd December 1970)', in Untying the Text: A Post-Structuralist Reader, ed. Robert Young, London and New York: Routledge, 1981, pp. 51-78, p. 60.

    [71] J. Mowatt and D. Wall, Dealing with the Media, Jannali: The Filipino Women's Working Party, 1992, p. 12.

    [72] See Dirks, Eley and Ortner, quoted in Debbora Battaglia, 'Toward an Ethics of the Open Subject: Writing Culture in Good Conscience', in Anthropological Theory Today, ed. Henrietta L. Moore, Cambridge: Polity Press, 1999, pp. 114-50, p. 145.

    [73] Marnia Lazreg, 'Feminism and Difference: The Perils of Writing as a Woman on Woman in Algeria', in Feminist Studies 14, 1 (1988): 83-107, p. 96.

    [74] 'Anthony Giddens, Central Problems in Social Theory, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979.

    [75] Battaglia, 'Toward an Ethics of the Open Subject', p. 143.

    [76] Ramazanoglu, 'Introduction', p. 18.

    [77] Sherry B. Ortner, 'Resistance and the Problem of Ethnographic Refusal', in Comparative Studies in Society and History 37, 1 (1995): 173-93, pp. 184-86.

    [78] David Harvey, The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change, Oxford: Blackwell, 1990.

    [79] Copjec refers to this period as the 'graveyard of the subject': 'so many of our contemporary discourses have announced the death of the author, the ends of man, the deconstruction, atomization and demise of the subject, that one cannot help but be struck by the very thoroughness of its effacement.' Joan Copjec, 'Introduction', in Supposing the Subject, ed. Joan Copjec, London and New York: Verso, 1994, p. xi.

    [80] Benita Parry, 'Problems in Current Theories of Colonial Discourse', in Oxford Literary Review 9, 1-2 (1987): 27-58.

    [81] Parry, 'Problems in Current Theories of Colonial Discourse', p. 43.

    [82] Chris Weedon, Feminist Practice and Poststructuralist Theory, Oxford: Blackwell, 1987, p. 32.

    [83] Weedon, Feminist Practice and Poststructuralist Theory, p. 32.

    [84] Norton offers one of the most succinct descriptions of this position. See Bonny Norton, 'Language, Identity, and the Ownership of English', in TESOL Quarterly 31, 3 (1997): 409-29, p. 411.

    [85] Weedon, Feminist Practice and Poststructuralist Theory, p. 125.

    [86] Ramazanoglu, 'Introduction', p. 22.

    [87] I am indebted to one of the anonymous referees for this point.

    [88] Francis E. Mascia-Lees, Patricia Sharpe and Colleen Ballerino Cohen, 'The Postmodernist Turn in Anthropology: Cautions from a Feminist Perspective', in Signs 151, 1 (1989): 7-33, p. 25.

    [89] Helen Johnson, 'Reconstructing Site as Insight: Reflections of a Feminist Ethnographer', in Women's Studies: An Interdisciplinary Anthology, ed. Roberta Rosenberg, New York: Peter Lang, 2001, pp. 15-29, p. 18.

    [90] Janet Ransom, 'Feminism, Difference, and Discourse: The Limits of Discursive Analysis for Feminism', in Ramazanoglu, Up Against Foucault, p. 136.

    [91] Philip Blumstein, 'The Production of Selves in Personal Relationships', in Self and Society, ed. Ann Branaman, Massachusetts and Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 2001, pp. 183-97, pp. 183-84.

    [92] 'Cultural' identities are, according to Hall, 'those aspects of our identities which arise from our 'belonging' to distinctive ethnic, racial, linguistic, religious, and above all, national cultures.' See Stuart Hall, 'The Question of Cultural Identity', in Modernity and its Futures ed. Stuart Hall, David Held and Tony McGrew, Cambridge: Polity Press/The Open University, 1992, pp. 273-325, p. 274. Appiah calls these collective identities (in another dramaturgical metaphor) 'life-scripts' which, while giving our lives coherence, can also be restrictive and imprisoning: K. Anthony Appiah, 'Identity, Authenticity, Survival: Multicultural Societies and Social Reproduction', in Multiculturalism: Examining the Politics of Recognition, ed. Amy Guttman, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1994, pp. 149-63. Whatever the traditional term (social, cultural, group, or collective), Foucault refers to such identities simply as Discourses.

    [93] Douglas Hollan, 'Cross-Cultural Differences in the Self', in Journal of Anthropological Research 48, 4 (1992): 283-300.

    [94] Lebra, 'Self in Japanese Culture', in Japanese Sense of Self. She also introduces a third dimension, 'the boundless self', though this is not relevant to the present discussion.

    [95] Tamura, 'Border Crossings: Japanese War Brides and their Selfhood'.

    [96] In the Japanese context, Bachnik uses the term kejime to describe the ability that comes with maturity to shift behaviour appropriately, thereby, according to Plath, harmonising and balancing individual desires and collective expectations. See Bachnik, 'Kejime: Defining a Shifting Self in Multiple Organizational Modes', pp. 152-72; David W. Plath, Long Engagements, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1980. Designating an emic term like kejme, however, in no way disguises the fact that coming to understand the functions and limits of Discourse is a universal consequence of spending time in a particular Discursive environment.

    [97] Rosaldo makes a persuasive argument for their dissolution, though it seems ultimately to rest on an extended concept of 'culture' which is seen as creating—and therefore does away with the need to distinguish—subjectivities. See Michelle Z. Rosaldo, 'Toward an Anthropology of Self and Feeling', in Culture Theory: Mind, Self, and Emotion, ed. Richard Shweder and Robert LeVine, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984, pp.137-57. In fact, when she proposes that 'what individuals can think and feel is overwhelmingly a product of social modes of action and of talk' she could be paraphrasing Foucault. While sympathising (as the last section of this essay will show) with her discomfort towards dichotomies that may well be rooted in Western epistemology, I remain equally uncomfortable with a position which denies individuals recourse to a pre-social/extra-cultural inner essence.

    [98] Naomi Tsunematsu, 'An Examination of Power and Identity Construction among Japanese Women in a Local Community From a Feminist Perspective,' Ph.D. thesis, Melbourne, Monash University, 2001.

    [99] Ransom, 'Feminism, Difference, and Discourse', pp. 141-42.

    [100] Simon Gikandi, 'Narration in the Post-Colonial Moment: Merle Hodge's Crick Crack Monkey', in Past the Last Post: Theorizing Post-Colonialism and Post-Modernism, ed. Ian Adam and Helen Tiffin, Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 1990, pp. 13-22, p. 15.

    [101] Henri Tajfel, and J.C.Turner, 'An Integrative Theory of Intergroup Conflict', in The Social Psychology of Intergroup Relations, ed. W.G. Austin and S. Worchel, Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole, 1979, pp. 33-47, p. 34.

    [102] M. Brewer, 'The Social Self: On Being Same and Different at the Same Time,' in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 17 (1991): 475-82, p. 477.

    [103] Edward LiPuma, 'Modernity and Forms of Personhood in Melanesia,' in Bodies and Persons: Comparative Perspectives from Africa and Melanesia, ed. Michael Lambek and Andrew Strathern (eds.), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998, pp. 53-79.

    [104] Hall, 'Who Needs Identity?'

    [105] Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, New York: Routledge, 1990; Butler, Bodies that Matter.

    [106] Hall, 'Who Needs Identity?' p. 14.

    [107] Hall, 'Who Needs Identity?' p. 16.

    [108] Foucault, The Archeology of Knowledge, pp. 50-51.

    [109] David Silverman, Interpreting Qualitative Data: Methods for Analysing Talk, Text, and Interaction, London: Sage Publications, 1993, pp. 90-91.

    [110] Alastair Pennycook, The Cultural Politics of English as an International Language, New York: Longman, 1994, p. 296.

    [111] Jean-Francois Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition: A Report of Knowledge, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984, p. 60.

    [112] Many of the following observations of my own fieldwork have been influenced and supported by the work of Penny Kinnear who, through interviews and writings, has analysed how individuals growing up as children of one Japanese and one non-Japanese in Japan talk about who they are. In particular, her suggestion that identity is not a question of either/or but more of a dialogue and the importance for her participants of constructing a 'new place', have been influential. Much of the tension in the experiences of Kinnear's subjects, she concludes, was not between 'two' cultures but between the individual's own experiences, the meanings attached to, and the tools used for interpreting those experiences (i.e. subjectivity) and the stereotypical experiences he or she is supposed to undergo (i.e. Discourse): Penny Kinnear, 'Setting Assumptions Aside: Exploring Identity Development in Interracial/Intercultural Individuals Growing Up in Japan,' Kitakyushu: JALT Conference, 23 November, 2001.

    [113] Kondo, Crafting Selves, pp. 225-311.

    [114] Cameron, Feminism and Linguistic Theory, pp. 8-9.

    [115] Abu-Lughod, 'Writing Against Culture,' pp. 139-40.


This paper was originally published in Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context, with the assistance of Murdoch University.

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