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Assistant Professor Jun Nagatomo Wins Best Presentation Award at ICSSE Conference in Germany

Public Relations Office        January 25, 2018

Assistant Professor Jun Nagatomo of the School of International Studies received the Best Presentation award at the International Conference on Social Science and Economics (ICSSE), held in München, Germany on January 2nd and 3rd. His presentation, entitled “Tourist Gaze in Visitation Tours: Social Interactions and Power Relations between Host and Guest in Ama-cho, Oki Islands, Japan,” was an anthropological study based on his fieldwork in Ama-cho, located in the Oki Islands of Shimane Prefecture.

Looking back, “Every year I visit Ama-cho (in Oki, Shimane) with my seminar students, which creates many opportunities to speak with the people there. The process of learning together with my students was, itself, my research presentation. I’m thankful to the people of Ama-cho and to my students,” Prof. Nagatomo said. “Up to now the focal point of my research has been middle-class migration, looking at Japanese migrants to Australia and migration to Ama-cho. The migration and settlement process for middle-class migration is complex, and there is a broad range of fields which relate to this issue, so it’s a fascinating research subject. I’d like to continue to deepen my understanding of the topic, together with my students.”

Asst. Prof. Jun Nagatomo

Assistant Professor Jun Nagatomo

Ama-cho, as part of the isolated Oki Islands in the Sea of Japan, has been a subject of media attention as a model for successful regional revitalization. Many visitation tours are conducted so that people can learn about its various initiatives, such as its education-centered efforts to prop up local areas, its acceptance of immigrants, and its bold fiscal reforms and investment strategies.

In cultural anthropology and sociology, the “gaze”is perceived as something that goes hand in hand with the effects of power, and creates a power differential. Within the context of visitation tours, generally the observers are thought to be more powerful. However, the case of Ama-cho exhibits aspects which differ from this conventional theory. To deal with the increased number of visitation tours, Ama-cho outsources them to tourism associations and charges paid admission, among various other ideas it has implemented. Furthermore, in the talks given by people who are working on reforms, the relationship between “central“ and “regional” areas is not treated as fixed and dependent; rather, the relationship tends to be handled dynamically, where anything produced by the relationship is put to use.

Basing his research on the classic gift exchange theory of cultural anthropology as well as modern postcolonial perspectives, Assistant Professor Nagatomo revealed what changes have arisen in the power dynamic between the observer and the observed.