Fieldnotes: April 2006 Archives

I've recently read a fascinating book called Methods of Discovery: Heuristics for the Social Sciences by Andrew Abbott. This book explores the various ways by which social scientists develop and test the hypotheses and heuristics that drive their work. It's fascinating reading and highly recommended to graduate students about to begin their studies (or writing up their dissertations).

The book made me a bit reflective about my own doctoral studies, especially as my first book is about to be published by Cornell University Press this summer. My hypothesis going into field work was:

Changes in deaf identity in Japan were due to globalization effects and the importation of American cultural Deaf identity principles by younger deaf activists.

After I spent more time, my hypothesis was revised to:

Although it would on first glance appear to be biologically bound, deaf identity is constructed through individual interaction with social institutions (most importantly: schools for the deaf and associations of the deaf). In order to understand generational changes in deaf cohorts, one must begin with a study of the particular histories and institutional environments that members of those cohorts experienced.

Most of my book is a narrative history of deaf communities in Japan, interspliced with microhistories of five deaf women born into the three main cohorts that I explore.

Scott North sends me this link to the Japan Times website for a movie about "Japan's Helen Keller"

SHIMONOSEKI, Yamaguchi Pref. (Kyodo) Independent movie distributor Sumio Yamamoto has long been irritated by what he sees as the film industry's excessive concentration in Tokyo....

So the 52-year-old Shimonoseki native finally decided to take a chance by making his own film, a story about the turbulent life of a 74-year-old deaf and blind woman in Yamaguchi Prefecture struggling to achieve equal rights for people with visual and hearing disabilities.

The movie -- "Have You Ever Heard of Japan's Helen Keller?" -- was completed recently after months of planning by filmmakers and fundraising by residents of this harbor city. It is Japan's first movie on the life of a deaf and blind person.

The film is directed by Setsuo Nakayama, 68, and stars Ayako Kobayashi, who played the heroine in the popular TV drama "Oshin."

[read more]

Communications in the field is always a problem. GSM is the cellular technology that is used in most of the world. In the USA, Cingular and T-Mobile are the only providers with GSM networks. If you travel a lot, this list of GSM phone frequencies can come in handy: (died due to link rot) or here: or If link rot kills them all, there's always google (updated 2006.04.17)

I have a T-Mobile Motorola v-330 which is quad-band, so it works pretty much anywhere except Japan. One reason I like T-mobile is that they will unlock your phone after 6-months of usage, which means you can pick up a local SIM card and use that during your travels rather than burning up roaming minutes. And I think T-Mobile has great customer service.

In Japan, the cheapest is to get a pre-paid cellular. However, they're getting much harder to find than in the past -- and you have to show some proof of ID. I'm not sure if they'll take foreign passports as proof.

There's been a noticeable absence of quality journal articles on the topic of sexuality in Japan. This has now been partially filled by the publication of a special issue (#12, January 2006) of the online journal Intersections: Gender, History, and Culture in the Asian Context. From the table of contents:

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Fieldnotes category from April 2006.

Fieldnotes: February 2006 is the previous archive.

Fieldnotes: May 2006 is the next archive.

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