It is argued that local cultures have much more influence on the cognitive, affective and behavioural functioning of humans than many representatives of social psychology want to admit. Among the few culturally oriented and constructivist approaches, I take up the framework of social representation theory to take a position against claims of universalism in social psychological phenomena. I discuss forms of interaction among people that can be understood as re-constructing a representation's meaning underlying the co-ordinated actions; this is being called ‘cooperational meaning'. Putting the strings together, I consider social representations not only as encompassing members of the in-group, but also as including certain elements of the out-group's representations as a group-overarching meaning. This is seen as a necessary prerequisite when representatitives from different groups or even cultures meet.
Interest in personal narratives and life histories has been growing in recent years, but attention to this form of research material in anthropology has always been patchy. As an anthropologist with long experience of fieldwork in Indonesia (specifically with the Sa'dan Toraja people of South Sulawesi), I realized that some of my older acquaintances who were born near the beginning of the twentieth century had lived extraordinary lives. They had experienced all the dramatic social transformations accompanying successive political developments as Indonesia moved from colonialism, through wartime occupation by the Japanese and the struggle for Independence, to the emergence of a new nation-state. The possibility of identifying as “Indonesian” developed along the way as well. I became interested in the potentials of life narratives – not just of the famous, but of ordinary people - to provide insights into the interface between personal experience and great historical events, and to contribute to a more “autonomous” history, rich in indigenous perspectives, as John Smail, a dedicated historian of Indonesia, proposed was urgently needed in his oft-cited essay of 1961. My edited volume, Southeast Asian Lives: Personal Narratives and Historical Experience (Singapore University Press/Ohio University Press, 2007), draws together several such life narratives, as recounted and reflected upon by anthropologists working in different regions of Southeast Asia, with a view to exploring more fully the potentials of this kind of research for social scientists. In this article, I focus on the several remarkable Indonesian life narratives presented there, as well as a range of other recently published works in this genre, and discuss their contributions to a history and anthropology that seek to do justice to indigenous personal experience.
Psychology as a science of mind and behavior is a product of the Western world. Its theories and concepts contribute to an understanding of man himself. Currently it began to turn to a more societally oriented psychology caused by the social problems imposed by the rapid social change society undergoes. During its course, some objections were raised due to its acontextual and ahistorical stance. What constitute a psychological concept being used is historically and culturally contigent to the respective society and or the people's behavior being studied. This is true for Indonesia, a multicultural society with a long past of western colonization. It is the goal of this paper to state that important aspects of Indonesia's development can only be understood by tracing back its historical past. How often and in what way were we described and categorized by western anthropologist and sociologist using psychological concepts during the period of colonization? How accurate were their interpretation of Javanese cultural values such as sungkan and rukun , pertaining to social life ? On the other hand in what way and how Indonesian scholars and social scientists themselves view their own people. They not only studied social phenomena applying western psychological concepts such as stereotypes and traits but also transliterating indigenous / local wisdom using psychological concepts as a means to bring it into the mainstream of psychology . A comparative analysis and interpretation of the Javanese wejangan with modern psychological concepts show that it was possible to develop a compatible indigenous theory on ‘psychology' that suit and fit the Javanese people. In all, the scientific endeavour for searching truth about man in psychology should not close the door to the understanding of indigenous / local knowledge. In fact its numerous paths may lead us to accept that to reduce man to such concepts in mainstream psychology belittle his sense of being and cultural richness of his life.
Activity theory was used as a method to draw a vision, or a dream, that a leader wanted to achieve in the workplace. For this purpose, an original structure of activity figure presented by Engeström (1987) was modified to make it more user-friendly while keeping all important elements. The modified figure indicates structure of activity like ‘a particular person or a particular small group of people (subject of activity) do(es) something with the use of particular tools by collaboration with other people or groups (community) under a particular division of labor and rules.' This shows not only the structure of activity which you want to achieve but the format of the narrative you use when you present your vision to your colleagues. This paper will describe an example in which we used the method of activity theory in a training session to improve the leadership skills of nurses working for a large hospital.
Over the past 20 years in Western Europe, sociology has taken took a “subjectivist turn” which strengthened an already sociocentric outlook European societies, especially concerning the “totemization of the self”. In Western Europe, the individuals have to deal with “double-binds” situations and to face a diversity of normative orders. As contemporary Western Europe societies are getting more complex, there is a growing diversity of “alterity regimes”: weal alterity regimes, strong alterity regimes, partially autonomous alterity regimes. Because alterity regimes are getting more and more diverse, careers have become more and more discontinuous; and along with globalization, biographies become cosmopolitan and complex, forming plural identities built not only in different situations but also in multisituated times and spaces. The concept of subjectivity may be less common in Chinese sociology, but the subjectivity of the Other is not ignored. Whereas, in Western theories, the me, the I and the others are seen as distinct moments in a discontinuous process of the self, in Chinese thinking all steps are not so clearly set apart as the process itself is much more continuous.
If anthropology is a discipline of understanding the others, then, fieldwork is the bridge between the anthropologist and the others. Nevertheless, fieldwork had long been a tool or a technique for collecting ethnographic data before B. K. Malinowski formulated its epistemological foundation in “Argonauts of the Western Pacific”that was published in1922. In the “Introduction” of “Argonauts of the Western Pacific”, Malinowski suggested a biological paradigm for the anthropological fieldwork: skeleton, flesh and blood, and spirit. Malinowski also suggested us that the anthropologists had to learn the native's language in order to get closer to the native's mind that is the spirit of the others. Malinowski's formulation of “native point of view” was then re-oriented in 1966 by C. Geertz. For Geertz, we understand the others because we experience-near to the others if we can interpret the “meaning” that is expressed in the native's social discourse or social action. Geertz termed the kind of understanding as “empathetic understanding” or “empathy” in short. Geertz' notion of “experience” and “empathy” in fact comes from W. Dilthey's theory, the founder of modern hermeneutics. Dilthey's hermeneutics started with the problem of “how can we understand the others?” Dilthey's theory of understanding in fact is an expansion of common mind or familiar acquaintance. Dilthey was not in wonderment about the plurality of human consciousness. He was blinded with the qualitative variations of "self" in different civilizations and sheltered from considering other life-worlds. This misconception of human nature leads to Dilthey's misformulations of human understanding. In this perspective, Dilthey's theory needs to be reformulated if it is applied to understand other life-worlds. In conclusion, I suggest a further understanding, which I term "double consciousness" and "ideal unit", to illuminate the basis of hermeneutical circle or spiral in Dilthey's theory of understanding. Because relation and structure always have priority in Dilthey's thinking, a complete picture of his hermeneutics demands a look at how he conceptualizes the relation and the structure of the hermeneutical circle. These two concepts (relation and structure) are actually two faces of one coin. Thus, a re-interpretation of Dilthey's hermeneutics suggests a double problematic: that of knowing thyself (how we know ourselves) and that of knowing others (how the others know themselves). Therefore, acquiring an understanding of other cultural worlds becomes an important task for the anthropology of experience.
This essay attempts to discuss the cultural origin of conventional behaviors commonly found in diverse actors confronting new technologies for life; i.e., bioscientific controversies on organ transplantation from brain-dead donors and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Japan. Although these issues have different socio-historical contexts, the transplantation medicine and the agricultural biotechnology seem to share common characteristics: both organs and GMOs are determined to be acceptable as a natural part of bodily self or rejected as artificial others; there are ambiguous areas of behaviors, for instance, prevailing transplantations from living organ donors which are officially undesirable and “transplantation tourism”, as well as widespread consumption of food products derived from GMOs despite outward rejection by consumers and retailers with substantially restrictive institutions for their commercialization. In order to consider such common properties of collective behaviors, I apply the model of pollution in the early work by Mary Douglas as an analytical frame of the Otherness, in combination with the typology of strangers in Japanese folklores formulated by Komatsu Kazuhiko. Furthermore, each type of the Otherness may be corresponded to images of border area outside the community, where trade of excluded pollutants emerges. From the perspective, the practices of both organ transplantation and commercialization of GMOs are ostensibly excluded from the whole society as stigmatized ‘Pariah' because of their infringement from the inside community, and then put into the border area in which no mandatory rules are established. However, in this ‘areolar space', organs and GMOs can freely be imported and circulated as ‘Alien' in an unnoticed form throughout the market with least rules. Historical contingencies of preceding technologies that may cause such conventions managing the border area are also discussed, by which Japanese society can enjoy the benefit of technology that may potentially threaten the normal order of the majority of communities, while sustaining the purity of traditional values inherited within those communities.
This paper is an anthropological attempt to make sense why so many facets of the Taiwanese social life including language, food, entertainment, medical care, living environment, ritual, and architecture are underlined by a surprisingly strong “Japanese” ambiance. But what is more surprising is when asked why their behavior often showed definite Japanese traces, Taiwanese people explained without a second thought that these were the ways that they had always followed. In other words, to them, all these “Japanized” customs and practices are not Japanese, but essentially Taiwanese. Through an examination of the Japanese colonial policiesin Taiwan from 1895 to 1945, we shall demonstrate how and why Taiwanese people could be colonized by the alien Japanese colonial forces. Of course, native Taiwanese people did not just receive what was imposed on them. They did resist, recast or manipulate the alien Japanese foreign forces in their own terms, or for their own benefits. However, by attempting to negotiate with the colonial forces, local people ultimately entered into the game of the colonizer. Thus they are not playing their own but others’ game. In the course of engaging themselves into the game of the colonizer, native people could not but succumb themselves to the alien way of seeing and being, with their consciousness being colonized by the alien signs and practices which, as we shall argue, tells what it means by “being colonized”.
This study designed to develop a new method named the Diary Method to facilitate mutual understanding between a foreign visitor and people in the host country. The method consists of three stages; (1) a foreign visitor keeps a diary in his/her native language, (2) the diary is translated into the native language of the host country, and (3) the people who host the visitor read the translated version of diary and discuss about it with a facilitator who belongs to the host country and but is familiar with the visitor's country. This method aims at changing analytic narratives, or personal theories, that people in the host country had concerning individuals in the visitor's country by providing opportunities to be faced with conjunctive narratives, or narratives in a narrow sense, written in the diary. A case study was carried out to examine the effectiveness of the method. Specifically, two Indonesian authors of this paper kept a diary in the Indonesian language for a few months when they stayed at a Japanese university's laboratory while being hosted by four Japanese graduate students who worked in the laboratory. The diary was translated into Japanese and then was read by the four Japanese students. The graduate students discussed the diary with their Japanese colleague who had previously stayed in Indonesia. As a result, the four students changed their personal theory and behaviors. This change made another Indonesian researcher who ever heard the impression of his two colleagues, could not believe he was in the same laboratory when he visited the same laboratory the following year. Both positive and possible negative effects of the Diary Method were discussed from the viewpoints of both narrative and cognitive approaches.