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Being LGBT in Japan: An ethnographic study of the politics of identity and belonging

Wallace, Jane Esther (2018) Being LGBT in Japan: An ethnographic study of the politics of identity and belonging. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

This thesis presents an ethnographic study of the politics of identity and belonging amongst a community of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) individuals living in Japan. There is considerable existing scholarship which examines the lived experiences of gender and/or sexual minority individuals in Japan. However, many of these studies tend to focus upon individuals living in Tokyo, and upon specific groups of identities along the LGBT spectrum. This study aimed to broaden the view of the politics of identity and belonging across the LGBT spectrum, and in areas of Japan outside of Tokyo. This research focussed upon the ways in which respondents understood and practiced their identities during a period of intense mainstream media focus upon LGBT lives in Japan from 2015 to 2016. This acute upsurge in mainstream media attention, which has now been dubbed the ‘LGBT boom’ meant that LGBT lives became suddenly more publicly visible. However, there remains scant legal protection for LGBT individuals in Japan and issues related to (in)visibility remain a key feature of everyday life. This study was serendipitously timed to investigate these phenomena from the perspective of the individuals whom the LGBT boom claimed to represent. The study produced a body of rich, qualitative data from across the LGBT spectrum, and across intersections of nationality, gender, and physical location. This original empirical data allowed several theoretical contributions to knowledge. The study has shown that the gender and/or sexual minority communities in Japan are heterogeneous, and deeply hierarchical. They are also actively and overtly involved with a politics of identity and belonging. These politics of identity and belonging are performative and affectual, and bring about both inclusions and exclusions. This thesis represents a starting point for further ethnographic investigation into the lived reality of LGBT lives in Japan.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: LGBT, Japan, belonging, identity, community practice, queer, affect
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Languages Cultures and Societies (Leeds) > East Asian Studies (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.759779
Depositing User: Miss Jane Esther Wallace
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2018 12:52
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2020 12:32
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/22094

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