Mr Levi Durbidge1
1Monash University, Clayton, Australia
The widespread movement of people and information across international borders has meant that encounters with the ‘other’ have become more frequent, and thrust issues of cultural, racial and national identity to the fore of popular discourse. A subset of this global movement involves students travelling abroad for study, placing them in transnational spaces where these questions of identity become highly salient and of urgent importance. Drawing on a mixed-methods study of Japanese adolescents who spent a year abroad across Europe, North and South America, this presentation will explore both the opportunities and the risks that cultural and racial identities posed. The findings demonstrate how being identified as Japanese created opportunities to build friendships and have romantic encounters. The presentation will also examine how broader notions of Asian identity abroad were encountered, and the ways that this could be both empowering and marginalising. I will argue that participant experiences were inherently tied wider attitudes linked to migration and the soft power of Japanese cultural output.
Levi has been involved in language education in Japan and Australia for more than 15 years, both at the secondary and tertiary levels. This experience informs his interest in exploring how changes driven by globalisation and technology affect the learning and identities of academically mobile individuals.