Summer 2017

The fourth collaborative study program between Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and Chiba University will be held between August 7 and 22 in Chiba. This year’s host is the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Chiba University.

Topic: Cross-cultural Encounters and Regional Development

Concept: The majority of regional development efforts, especially in depopulated areas of the Japanese countryside (like the areas we visited two years ago), usually aim at finding solutions of a material nature: improvement of the transport network, refurbishment or building of new residential areas, hospitals, or nurseries, manufacture of pamphlets, tourist information websites (and smartphone applications) or local signature products, and the holding of special celebratory events that are to make the most of the region’s cultural and scenic heritage. The GSP participants’ presentations from 2014 and 2015 provide perhaps the best examples of this “material nature” of local development ideas. Last year’s program showed us, however, that even the best development plan can produce poor results if the encounter between various stakeholders (in last year’s case: tourists, local residents, archaeologists, and local governing bodies) does not happen smoothly and if relations of trust are not honed from an early stage.

This year’s program moves therefore to the human aspects of regional development. Assuming that events such as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics or perhaps new relaxations in Japanese immigration policies will provoke, in the future, sudden surges of mobility of populations originating from outside the Tokyo Metropolitan area (namely not just non-Japanese nationals, but also visitors from other parts of the country), how local communities of Chiba prefecture will react to these encounters? Cross-regional and cross-cultural encounters require a certain frame of mind for them to be fruitful, both on the part of the ‘visitors’ and on the part of the ‘locals’; what are these and how can we study them before they actually happen?

British social anthropologist, Sir Edmund Leach, famously espoused the concept of the ‘naive stranger.’ The concept has since been criticized for its colonial undertones, but it nevertheless remains relevant, if we keep in mind that ‘stranger’ does not necessarily mean ‘foreigner.’ Under certain circumstances, I would, for example, be considered a total stranger to what happens to the residential district that is located next to mine. In this sense, especially in regards to human-to-human encounters, ‘strangeness’ should be a very familiar feeling.

‘Surprising though it may seem, fieldwork in a cultural context of which you already have intimate first-hand experience seems to be much more difficult than fieldwork which is approached from the naive viewpoint of a total stranger. When anthropologists study facets of their own society their vision seems to become distorted by the prejudices which derive from private rather than public experience’ (Edmund Leach. 1982. Social Anthropology. Glasgow: Fontana, p.124).

This program, therefore, aims more precisely at simulating cross-cultural encounters in two areas of Chiba prefecture. One is the town of Ichinomiya, which is also going to host the surfing competitions at the coming Tokyo Olympic Games. The other is Chiba-city and particularly the Old Town, which has recently been the center of increased efforts to attract tourists. The two areas differ in many aspects (population, urbanization, transport network etc.), but do they also differ in the way local communities react to a sudden surge of visitors from the outside?

Schedule of pre-course education:

[Friday 12 May 2017] 

1) Tourism and Regional Revitalization: ‘Encounter’ as the Forgotten Dimension

(Reading: Henderson, Joan Catherine. 2017. Destination Development: Trends in Japan’s Inbound Tourism. International Journal of Tourism Research 19:89-98.)

[Monday 15 May 2017] SKYPE

2) Cross-cultural Encounters: A Historical Perspective

(Reading: Fred R. Dallmayr. 1996. Beyond Orientalism: Essays on Cross-Cultural Encounter. State University of New York Press, “Chapter 1: Modes of Cross-Cultural Encounter: Reflections on 1492.”)

 [Friday 19 May 2017]

3)+4): Film screening: “Silence” (2016)

(Reading: Cathy Davidson. 2006 [1993]. 36 Views of Mt Fuji. Duke University Press, “Chapter 2: Foreigners.”)

 [Monday 22 May 2017] SKYPE

5) Encounter between AUTh and Chiba U students

 [Friday 26 May 2017]

6) Culture and Tourism: Challenges in Japan

(Reading: *Chris McMorran. 2008. Understanding the ‘Heritage’ in Heritage Tourism: Ideological Tool or Economic Tool for a Japanese Hot Springs Resort? Tourism Geographies 10(3): 334-354. *菊地俊夫、 松村公明 編『よくわかる観光学 3: 文化ツーリズム学』2016年 朝倉書店→「文化ツーリズムの基礎としての社会学」と「文化ツーリズムの基礎としての文化人類学」)

 [Monday 29 May 2017] SKYPE

7) Workshop: Researching Encounters: Preliminary Data Collection

  • Analysis of the e-mediated gaze of the fieldwork locations. (Peter Robinson. 2016. Developing the E-Mediated Gaze. In Jo-Anne Lester and Caroline Scarles (eds.), Mediating the Tourist Experience: From Brochures to Virtual Encounters. Routledge, pp.155-170.)
  • Devising a methodology for simulating encounters

 [Monday 5 June 2017]

8)-9) Planning the simulation

 [Friday 30 June 2017] 

10) Planning the simulation

 [Monday 3 July 2017] SKYPE

11) Talk by Professor Niikura Ryoko

 [Friday 7 July 2017] SKYPE

13) Revising simulation methodology

 [Monday 10 July 2017] SKYPE

14) -15) Preparing the cultural presentations

 [Friday 4 August 2017]

16) Last preparations

Schedule of the main program (tentative, updated frequently):

August 7 (Mon): arrival in Chiba

August 8 (Tue): welcome party (in the evening)

August 9 (Wed): cultural presentations at, and guided tour of the town of Ichinomiya

August 10 (Thu)~August 12 (Sat): fieldwork, workshop, and mid-presentations at Ichinomiya (stay two nights at Ichinomiya-kan)

August 13 (Sun)~August 14 (Mon): free days

August 15 (Tue): workshop at Chiba U.

August 16 (Wed)~ August 18 (Fri): fieldwork in Chiba-city, followed by workshop in the evening

August 19 (Sat)~August 20 (Sun): preparation of final presentations

August 21 (Mon): final presentations at Chiba U (academic+non-academic) + preparation of the pamphlet

August 22 (Tue): departure from Chiba

Sponsors: