The Reproduction of Japanese and Foreigners as Separate Categories – An Ethnographic Study on English Summer Camps in Japan


Internationalization (or kokusaika, the "continuation of the practice of being open to the outside world while protecting and promoting the national culture" (Hagermann: 2009)) remains a pre-eminent, long-term goal of the Japanese Ministry of Education. As interaction between Japanese and non-Japanese is still limited in Japan, the Japanese government puts a great emphasis on creating environments to experience authentic English, such as English camps for elementary to high school students. International students, who study at Japanese universities are grouped together with Japanese students to practice English through cultural exchange. At the same time, the ideological belief that English equals internationalization and that studying English would not undermine Japanese cultural identity and cultural values prevails in Japan (Hashimoto: 2007). Research on English camps mainly focuses on the positive and negative effects that these camps have on the Japanese students’ English language skills and motivation, however, research on the intercultural aspect of these camps from a critical point of view is still lacking. This ethnographic study looks at English summer camps from the viewpoint of the international students who participate as counsellors and aims to uncover how they act out the role of the “ideal foreigner” and how this results in a reproduction of Japanese and foreigners as separate categories. Curriculums have been analysed and interviews have been conducted with international students who participated in English summer camps to get an insight into the interculturality of these camps and to reveal how the students construct the image of “ideal foreigners”.

Author Information
Anastasia Bender, University of Tsukuba, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: ACEID2020
Stream: Challenging & Preserving: Culture

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon