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Reluctant Intimacies. Japanese Eldercare in Indonesian Hands

Switek, B; (2013) Reluctant Intimacies. Japanese Eldercare in Indonesian Hands. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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The thesis explores the tensions in Japan between national ideologies of cultural homogeneity and the demographic and economic realities which increasingly point to the unavoidability of immigration. Based on ethnographic research in Japan and Indonesia, the thesis looks at the formation of relationships between the Japanese personnel, the employers, the cared-for elderly, and the Indonesian care workers employed in Japanese eldercare institutions under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) initially implemented in 2008. While primarily focusing on the negotiation of relationships at an interpersonal level, the thesis also considers the intersections between the ageing of society and the Japanese discourses of nationhood. Shifting between these scales of observation, the project discusses the interplay between the bodily, interpersonal, and cultural intimacies. It examines how they are formed, maintained, negated, negotiated, and lost. In doing so, it emphasises the saliency of essentialising cultural representations. However, the research reveals that these become paralleled by identifications based on other, non-cultural areas of immediate experience. Thus, the thesis shifts the emphasis away from (but does not completely abandon) the ethnic or national underpinnings of the migration processes as a lived experience for migrants and hosts alike. Following the politico–economic background of the Indonesian workers’ presence in Japan and the introduction of the idea of culture laid out in the vocabulary of intimacy, the consecutive chapters focus on different sets of relationships forged by the Indonesian workers. The thesis concludes with the discussion of media representations and a suggestion that the ‘seeding’ of foreign workers and residents within local communities in Japan constitutes the arena in which cross-cultural intimacies emerge.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Reluctant Intimacies. Japanese Eldercare in Indonesian Hands
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: Care, migration, eldercare, intimacy, body, multiculturalism, Japan, Indonesia
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1390648
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