A new project is underway which I was inspired to develop from the research of a colleage of mine here at Doshisha University (thank you Itagaki Ryuta for introducing me to Kenkanryu!).

The idea is essentially as follows (following is an exert from a grant application to Afrasia, which we were given!)–

Project Summary

The project aims to create short but powerful dramatic film portrayals of cultural symbolism and to evaluate how effective these films are in affecting the identities of people who subscribe to ultra-nationalist, sectarian and/or racist discourses, identities and narratives. The films are to be created through a process of applying ethnographic information on the cultural symbolism of the target participants to ethnographic research on “healthy” non-conflict groups from the same cultural background (Japan). The project is focused on attempting to affect Japanese people who read anti-Korean manga—attempting to entice them to integrate “additional” narratives on common Asian heritage, and thus stem the potentially conflict inducing sectarian identities that are otherwise emerging.

The project’s core information and evaluation phases are based upon anthropological research, but the creative and production phases of the project draw on historical, psychological, dramatic and technical specialists.

Identifying salient cultural symbolism in existing ethnographic research

The project intends to use two existing bodies of ethnographic material: the first an analysis of Japanese-published anti-Korean manga by anthropologists based in the social studies department at Doshisha university; the second an extensive fieldwork study on generational change in the concept of Japanese national identity, and of changing youth attitudes towards Asia as a zone of common cultural heritage (conducted by Bruce White at Doshisha and the OICD).

By combining the observations and findings of these two ethnographic studies, the project will attempt to understand how and if this information can be utilized to integrate the narrative symbolism of common Asian heritage (the second ethnography) into the symbolic markers and landmarks which represent the narratives contained in the anti-Korean manga (the first project).

Integrating and Transforming Cultural Meanings and Symbolism

In what then becomes an essentially literary phase of the project, a series of scenarios (scripts) representing the formula for these integrative solutions shall then be put forward by a small team of creative and dramatic writers (under the supervision and guidance of Japanese anthropologists).These same creative and dramatic participants (drawn from a pool of academic researchers affiliated with the Organization for Intra-Cultural Development), will also advise and arrange for dramatic artists and participants in Japan to perform the relevant parts of the script for production of short films.

Returning to Doshisha University, the project will then draw on the extensive resources of its media centre and professional studio and staff who will compile a series of up to three 30-second films based on the workshop scripts and performances.

Evaluating the Results: Focus groups and Response Analysis

The last and perhaps most crucial phase sets out to evaluate the responses of anti-Korean manga readers to the films in a controlled setting, and thus the effectiveness of the process of this applied OICD project.