The National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) is a research center for ethnology and cultural anthropology.

Reconstructing Knowledge of Social Movements

Joint Research Coordinator UDAGAWA Taeko

Reserch Theme List


Recent years have seen a wide variety of social movements throughout the world, including indigenous peoples’ movements, the woman’s movement and citizens’ movements. These movements can be viewed as efforts to revamp society, especially in terms of recognizing members of minorities and striving for cooperative coexistence. From that perspective, this research will aim simultaneously to conduct repeated discussions based on actual survey materials concerning specific movements and synthesize movement theory which in the past has tended to segment in different academic disciplines. By establishing new horizons for movement theory, this project will engage in more specific and proactive discussions on the possibilities and actual conditions for a pluralistic social symbiosis.
The loci for these movements can be the places where we need to challenge existing knowledge and reshape things. Critical questions for our research become how does knowledge, such as clinical knowledge, special nature of citizenry, and folk knowledge, formed by movements in the places of action reorganize, shakeup, appropriate, conflict with, or connect with existing knowledge. The question is what the role of knowledge from specialists and researchers should be. These questions become tied to questions related to the social responsibilities and ethics of academia. That is especially true for anthropology in the post-colonial age. Specific indications of how this study develops will be an interesting research topic for the future.

Research Results

This joint research project was organized as a adjunct to the “Revamping Knowledge Concerning the Building of Pluralistic, Cooperative Societies and the Scenes of Movements,” a Humanities and Sciences Promotion Project research of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). Actual implementation of this research was carried out in close coordination with that project research, as well as with a MINPAKU institutional investigative research project.
First, as an overall question of shared interest, within the coordination with the above described research, we established the standpoint of comparing things with the current situation in Japanese society. We focused our attention on the following four themes: (1) the present situation and history of community activities in Japan; (2) the present situation in advanced countries, especially issues of social exclusion; (3) minority movements and issues of pluralistic cooperative living; and, (4) issues related to cooperative coexistence amidst globalization. While receiving support from the institutional research and the abovementioned research, we implemented our survey, focusing on examples of social enterprises, indigenous peoples’ movements, and fair trade regulations in Japan, South Korea, Italy and Great Britain. At the same time, we held research meetings and symposiums described below, which yielded an interim report and further deepened our discussions. This process, especially our research into themes such as fair trade, revealed how social movements in different sectors have an intimate relationship to globalization. While validating the basic problems of interest to the committee through specific examples, we confirmed the need for more cross-sectional research on social movements in the future.
Although this research was scheduled to finish as a museum joint research project during FY2006, the above described sister project and the institutional research by the museum will continue during FY2007. Consequently, we could expect to see the individual research efforts carried out to this point be comprehensively summarized during FY2007. We would then be in a better position to consider the situation in contemporary society regarding diverse social movements being actively carried out in various regions and their dimensions, as well as present conditions and problems from the perspective of pluralistic cooperative coexistence.