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Minor videos and becoming-Japanese : problematizing [co][existence] and envisioning alternative futures of young migrants’ lives in Japan Iwase, Masayuki


This dissertation describes the production and governance of young migrants in Japan as (educational) ‘problems’ and ‘deficits.’ It examines the discursive and non-discursive contexts of the Japanese government’s ethnocentric policy aspirations to realize multicultural coexistence against a backdrop of increasing newcomer populations. It notes, however, that the policy aspirations are problematic because they uphold a majoritarian ideals based on ‘cosmeticism,’ ‘paternalism,’ and ‘difference-blindness.’ Such ideals are premised on an ontology of Japanese exceptionalism known as Nihonjinron. Young migrants’ disinvestment is a by-product of the contradictory policy aspirations of coexistence and Nihonjinron through which they get labeled as deficits based on unilateral assessments of their Japanese language abilities. Disinvested young migrants are placed in a bracketed state of [co][existence] which delimits their lives a priori as forms of non-living and non-existence. The prime objective of the research project for this dissertation was to suspend the policy aspirations of [co][existence] to assist six disinvested young migrants of JSL centre Kaede in reinvesting amid the contested policy landscape in order to envision alternative futures. My attempts at aiding their reinvestment entailed intervening through the theoretical lenses of a ‘policy problematization,’ which was plugged into Multiple Literacies Theory’s (MLT’s) reontologized notion of literacies and subjectivities. The research mapped the MLT-informed literacies as ‘sense,’ ‘intensive,’ and ‘immanent’ readings and new subjectivities as becoming within the affective policy landscapes of [co][existence]. The research pursued these goals by co-creating videos through a post-qualitative methodology of what I call ‘minor video-making,’ in which a group of young migrants and myself as researcher-educator-videographer collaborated as ‘intercessors’ to produce two short docufictions titled Watermelons and Humans and Always. I subsequently analyzed these videos with principles of Deleuzian film/cinema-philosophy to assist the participants in developing aspirations, hopes, and subjectivities for alternative forms of coexistence in Japan. Becoming-Japanese was our joint reinvestment in challenging both our fixed points of identity and the logics and rationalities of [co][existence] policy aspirations. During the minor video-making and subsequent analysis processes, the participants developed and demonstrated parallel thoughts and practices that generated the potential for other modes of life and existence for them in Japan.

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