I came to York University after completing an MA at Université de Montréal, where I focused on the aesthetics of kawaii, an ideal that advocates cuteness and childish behaviour among Japanese women. The overall objective of this thesis was to update the impact of a given visual culture in the formation and construction of a female identity in Japan. My present research project focuses on the Fukushima nuclear disaster. I aim to ethnographically explore how ideas of contamination shape social relations of acceptance, belonging and exclusion through everyday practices in Japan. In the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, I seek to focus on the discriminatory and marginalizing practices towards those Japanese citizens who are suspected of having been affected by radioactive contamination. I wish to examine how discourses and fears of contamination are socially constructed, especially in their relations to politics of minorities in Japan. The formation of discriminative identities and tendancies, which is not merely the result of radiation, provides a rich context to explore how fear of contamination intersects with historically sedimented and culturally constituted politics of identity. My proposed research asks: what is the intent that gives impetus to everyday practices and discourses of discrimination in Fukushima? Drawing from recent scholarship on environmental citizenship, I plan to show how discriminatory practices arise, how they travel and transform, and what can such analyses tell us about the unfolding cultural politics of exclusion, belonging and citizenship.
Keywords: Cultural politics of exclusion; belonging; citizenship; Japan