Annotation: Faier, Lieba. 2009. Intimate Encounters

Faier, Lieba. 2009. Intimate Encounters: Filipina Women and the Remaking of Rural Japan. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Faier’s research on Filipina oyomesan (brides) in Japan is a contribution to a feminist scholarship that studies global capitalism through the investigation of its “multiple and contested nature through a messy and socially constructed process” (20). The author spends 23 months living in and around a rural town which she calls Central Kiso. Faier uses the term “cultural encounters” to refer to the coming together of different discourses, genealogies of meaning, and forms of desire (1). Desires, particularly, both by the Filipina migrants and the Japanese residents, were configured within the larger interweaving of the historical and economic relations between Japan, the Philippines, and the United States. Faier looks at the intimate and quotidian relations of marriage between Japanese men and Filipinas as the center of her study, and asserts that when everyday processes are overlooked, one may miss the “intimate and contingent dynamics through which meanings of culture and identity are made and remade” (217). Faier looks at Filipina migrants and Japanese migrants as both actively participating in the making of “Japaneseness and Filipinoness through their shared everyday life” (7). For instance, as the Japanese residents attempted to define the ideology of the ii ooyomesan (ideal bride), Filipinas are simultaneously involved in strategic performances of Filipinaness through their “spatialized practices, embodiments, and forms of discipline” (164). The book’s object of analyses is also not the universal culture of a particular people, but the “sets of contingent, translocal relationships” in which one must pay attention to the “affective commitments – the wishes, wants, objectives, dreams, goals, aspirations, and longings – that shape people’s everyday lives and lead their paths to cross” (35). These encounters as ongoing cultural processes, as Faier argues, are however “never entirely shaped by chance” and are in fact “always dependent upon specific histories and unequal organizations of power” (11). These encounters cannot also be traced to a single point of origin, and instead follow “multiple and deferred points of departure” (15) as she shows by beginning “somewhere in the middle” of social processes, histories, and zones of encounters.

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