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Civil Society and International Students in Japan: Methodology and Fieldwork

  • Dr Polina Ivanova (Ritsumeikan University)
Wednesday 20 September 2023
Leiden Lecture Series in Japanese Studies
On campus (Lipsius 1.48) and online via Zoom

This lecture will be held via Zoom: click here for the link.


This talk will focus on methodology and fieldwork behind Polina Ivanova’s recent monograph exploring encounters and interactions between international students and local civil society organisations (CSOs) in Japan.

Based on the results of a cross-case analysis, this study reveals the possibilities for international students in Japan of creating social capital in the short term in culturally and socially diverse groups. While a conventional approach sees universities as the main support providers, this research shows the role of local CSOs as alternative actors offering international student support. Unlike the long-standing paradigm viewing Japanese civil society as top-down and closely following the government, this book uncovers many decentralised and bottom-up organisational types. Moreover, it highlights an active part taken by foreign staff and volunteers in Japanese CSOs, which challenges the guest-host dichotomy of the previous literature. Since the book also includes a chapter on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on international students, civil society, and social capital, the talk will touch upon the fieldwork changes and methodological challenges that arose during that period.

About Polina Ivanovna

Polina Ivanova is a postdoctoral researcher at Ritsumeikan University (Kyoto, Japan) where she obtained her PhD in International Relations in March 2021. Her research interests lie in the areas of civil society, international migration and migrant integration, focusing on international student mobility and more recently on refugees and asylum seekers. Her current project is an edited volume on refugees and asylum seekers in Japan and Taiwan, co-edited with Dr Lara Momesso (University of Central Lancashire, UK) and bringing together 22 researchers and practitioners from Japan, UK, US, Taiwan, Indonesia, and Czech Republic.

Link to the lecture (Zoom)

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