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Senior Research Seminar: Dr Iza Kavedžija (University of Exeter)

When Feb 15, 2019
from 04:15 PM to 06:00 PM
Where Edmund Leach Room, Department of Social Anthropology Free School Lane, Cambridge
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Dr Iza Kavedžija (University of Exeter)

The work of hope in a Japanese mutual aid network

In contemporary urban Japan, widespread anxieties about aging and an increasing sense of hopelessness or alienation have led a number of people to start mutual aid networks. This paper explores one such network, in a downtown neighbourhood of Osaka. It examines the motivations of the people who launched it and became involved in the community projects, who have over the past fifteen years started a range of well-functioning support services in the neighbourhood, despite feeling apprehensive about their own ability to make any difference, or contribution to the community. How do these sceptical subjects bring themselves to act? I argue that rather than being a precondition for action, hope can be understood as emergent, as an outcome of effort. People involved in community efforts, while sceptical of long-term goals or large-scale visons, focus on concrete mundane tasks, like changing a lightbulb. This article thus explores the ‘work of hope’: the work that fosters hope, and the work that hope enables.

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