Council on Anthropology and Education
Oral Presentation Session
Yuki Imoto (Keio University)
Since 2013, the authors have been practicing “dialogic autoethnography” (Bochner & Ellis 1995). We reflect in dialogue on our identities and experiences as transnational female academics and educators based in Japan, and experiment with writing and presenting our voices, and hence documenting our transformations over time. Sometimes we have explained our method as a process of healing, sharing our struggles of negotiating in-between identities and marginality, and intersubjective knowing/learning (Imoto and Tokunaga 2019). At other times, we have described it as an active method of questioning the cultural norms of Western-centered academic knowledge or of nationalized Japanese institutions. We have identified our dialogic autoethnographic work as being about “empowerment,” and using writing as a path of liberation. However, we increasingly find that dialogic autoethnography is not sufficiently explained with this “Western” term of empowerment. Dialogic autoethnography is also a form of disciplined embodiment, a certain kind of practice that involves commitment, trust, compromise, letting go of the ego (“I” wrote this and this was “my idea”), and developing a certain common rhythm while respecting differences. In this paper, we explore how both of us are grappling in different ways with “unlearning” knowledge that we have acquired through our education and fieldwork across continents. (Re)considering the possibilities and limits of social justice concepts valued in the U.S. is one example. We suggest that dialogic autoethnography can become a disciplined practice for a “flexible mind” (Zerubavel 1991), and can simultaneously be a space for healing and transformative learning.