Institute for Gender Studies,Ochanomizu University

Li Xiaojiang

Director and Professor, Center of Gender studies, Dalian University, China
Visiting Professor at the Institute for Gender Studies, Ochanomizu University(1-3/2004)

The 15th IGS Evening Seminar Series

The Methodology and Significance of cross-Cultural
Gender Studies under Globalizattion:The Case of Women's Oral History in North Asia


January 28, February 4, 12, 18 (2004)


Li Xiaojiang
Director and Professor, Center of Gender studies, Dalian University, China
Visiting Professor at the Institute for Gender Studies, Ochanomizu University


“Globalization” is now observed to seriously influencing people of various layers of a society. In this process of globalization, two of reciprocal actions coincide. One is an aggressive external intervention. The other is an increase in the number of choices of individuals. Because of these factors, the concept of “globalization” is an indispensable premise to measure quality of life/subsistence of individuals in various groups across the world. In addition, it operates as a yardstick or a fundamental standpoint for researchers of social sciences for discerning the individual vales, which rise to the surface of a society. In this regard, Gender Studies, particularly Cross-Cultural Gender Studies, is extremely important. Gender (common characteristics of human beings and components of individual real lives) analysis enables us to understand “individuals” and their “lives” beyond the conventional restraints (race, ethnicity, and state), political interests, and constraints of ideologies. Furthermore, Gender Studies envisages mutual understanding and co-existence of people. It further stimulates critical discussions, aiming for freedom of individuals and reasonable choices in a multicultural society, which ultimately leads to diversity of societies as well as world peace.

Seminar 1
Theorizing "Globalization Studies" Through Issues of "Pre-Globalization"

Since cross-cultural understating is very hard to achieve, I believe the actual “cases” helps us the best. I will begin each seminar by introducing some cases (in other word, “narratives”). In the seminar 1, based on my experiences, I will explain how Gender Studies has influenced and responded to the mainstream disciplines and the  conventional academia under globalization, which allows diversity of cultures, along with the analysis of transformation processes of Women’s Studies to Gender Studies and its significance. Additionally, I would like to clarify some technical terminology which are closely linked to my research and this seminar series such as pre-globalization, globalization(seminar 1), gender relations and socio-ecological system, and individual lives/quality of subsistence (seminar 2). I will also discuss the research methodologies, the issues I have focused on, as well as the further analytical issues.

Seminar 2
Methodology 1 Gender Analysis
Beyond the Borders of Class, Ethnicity, and the State:
The Case of Ethnic Koreans in China, Koreans in North Korea and South Korea

I argue that gender analysis is the most appropriate methodology to examine the individual living standards in a socio-ecological system constituted through different political institutions and ethnic cultures. Throughout the world, over a century, political institutions (colonial wars and the Cold War) and ideology overthrew the governments/traditional nations and divided a country. These are, for example, ethnic Koreans (divided into 3), ethnic Germans (divided into 2), and ethnic Chinese (externally divided into 3, and internally minority groups). In this seminar, I will focus on the case of ethnic Koreans in China and Koreans in North and South Korea with gender analysis. Through my comparative research on the gender relations of the same ethnicity (ethnic Koreans) located in different social institutions, highlighting the field trip to North Korea, I will examine 1) how modern national institutions and ideologies have reconstructed the gender relations in society 2) how traditional ethnic cultures have influenced the quality of individual lives by the medium of gender relations.

Seminar 3
Methodology 2 Interview Research
Examining Individual Lives and the Quality of Life through Case Studies of
Rural Women (Chinese, Japanese, Korean) in Northeast Asia

In order to understand the concrete lives of the research subjects multi-dimensionally and “sympathize” with them, the researchers need to position themselves in the targeted environments and dialogue with them face to face. Observation is not sufficient. Listening ―― listening to how the subject senses/acknowledges her life and society ―― is crucial. Therefore, in this seminar, I would like to demonstrate two very similar but different concepts ―― quality of life ( the sense of a subject) and quality of subsistence (analysis by researchers). The former determines the subject’s senses and the latter represents discursive decisions of researchers. The aspect of Comparative Gender Studies is incorporated in this research. One of the reasons why I selected rural area for my research field is that traditional cultures have been much preserved in these areas, in other words, the characteristics of a multicultural society are recognizable. Meanwhile, the researches on the women reveal more comprehensive memories of private spheres and individual lives. Focusing on the “three agricultural issues,” I conducted the cross-cultural interview research in Northeast of China (Han Chinese, ethnic Koreans) and Japan (Miyabe Village). My research will also zoom in a living body of individuals, shifting from the analyses of social categories such as state, ethnicity, class, and family.

Seminar 4
Methodology 3 Replacing Positions
Differences, Conflicts, and Choice in a Multi-Cultural Society:
Oral History in the Era of "Manchuguo"

The differences in values of ethnicities and the hostile political positions as well, manipulate our judgments and construct the different discourses surrounding the voicing subjects (either “I” or “we”). The subject “we” becomes a synonym for an “ethnic group” and hard to avoid the nationalistic connotations; however, personal narratives instead, unveil important histories and enable us to find clues to the causes of “conflicts” and motives for “choices.” The “replacing positions” is the premise for mutual understanding, respect, and co-existence among people. Cross-cultural Studies should concern three aspects: 1. Political position 2. Ethnic position 3. Gender position. It should not be exclusive; it must be a comprehensive analysis on the foundation of correlative “sympathy.” By offering the case study of women’s collective memories of “rice” in the era of “Manchuguo,” I would like to pose two questions. The first question is about ethnic identities (and conflicts). The second one is about the unique means of positioning women’s historical memories. Notwithstanding the approaches from daily lives, its issues and questions are identified with “post colonialism” emerged from the process of “globalization.”

※This event is finished.

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Institute for Gender Studies,Ochanomizu University
2-1-1 Ohtsuka, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 112-8610, Japan
Phone: 81-3-5978-5846 Fax: 81-3-5978-5845