Applied [email protected]: Being different in Tokyo

By March 6, 2012News
Being different in Tokyo

Shinjuku Station, Tokyo

Update: Change of venue to W6B 301 Conferencing Rm
The next seminar of the 2012 series of Applied Linguistics seminars at Macquarie University will be held next week:

Experiences of ‘being different’ in Tokyo: an examination of the effects of ‘race’ and ‘ethnicity’ on intercultural interactions in Japan

Lisa Fairbrother, Sophia University, Japan

Abstract: Second language users who look, act and/or speak differently from the majority population often report having very different daily life experiences because of others’ perceptions of their ‘race’ and/or ‘ethnicity’. However, despite the recent calls for more research to be conducted focusing on the issue of ‘race’ in intercultural interactions, notably from the field of second language education (Kubota & Lin 2009), in reality very little empirical research has been conducted dealing with this topic, particularly in Japan. Based on interactional and interview data collected in the Tokyo area, I will highlight some of the effects that perceptions of ‘race’ and ‘ethnicity’ have on language use and behavior. I will give examples of how perceptions of ‘race’ can affect others’ expectations of language ability and different sociocultural group membership and how these expectations can lead to particular behaviour. Although there are clear cases of prejudice and discrimination, I will argue that just looking at the issue of ‘race’ in terms or ‘abuser’ versus ‘abused’ does not give the whole picture. I will demonstrate how the use of a particular code, namely English, can sometimes cancel out expectations of sociocultural group membership based on visual appearance and how ‘being different’ can actually be exploited by second language users as a means of fulfilling their personal interests.

Time and venue: Tuesday, March 13, 12noon-1pm, Macquarie University, Building C5A, Room 565.

Lisa Fairbrother is an Associate Professor at Sophia University, Japan, where she teaches intercultural interaction, sociolinguistics and English. Her research interests include the micro-level analysis of intercultural contact situations, the influence of power and prejudice on intercultural interaction and issues relating to Language Management Theory.

Author Lg_on_the_move

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  • Lachlan Jackson

    Looks realy interesting! I wish I could be there!

  • khan

    Very interesting project indeed. Good luck for the presentation. Any possibility of attending it virtually?

    Anyways best of luck,


  • Thanks, Khan! We’ll see how we go tomorrow but are definitely planning to make our seminars available to virtual audiences in the future.