PhD student, Department of History, Concordia University

Intimate Spaces, Internationalized Selves: Japanese Migration to Montreal, Quebec, 1990-Present

Since the bursting of the economic bubble in 1990, vast changes have swept across Japan. For Japanese youth of the so-called ushinawareta nijuunen or Lost Decades, the post-bubble period has set into motion unprecedented shifts in the meanings of self, gender, family, and labour. Through oral history interviews with thirty Japanese migrants to Montreal, Canada, and analyses of Japanese popular literature concerning selfhood and alternative lifepaths, my project seeks to explore how young Japanese living abroad narrate their life choices amidst large-scale historical and economic shifts in their home country between 1990 to the present. My dissertation has three interrelated goals. First, I am interested in assessing the relevance and limitations of the so-called neo-liberal self in understanding migrants’ journeys to the West.  Second, this study will examine how Japanese young people have negotiated the pressures and changing life-path expectations of post-bubble Japan both within the archipelago and in the diaspora. Finally, I will turn to the the geographically-grounded life-worlds of Japanese in Montreal with particular emphasis on narratives of identity and change.