研究員紹介
Dale K. ANDREWS(教養学部言語文化学科)
Some Thoughts on My Research



 Okinawa was my first encounter with Japan and also the first time that I had ventured abroad. In 1998, at the age of 20, I came to be stationed in Okinawa as a member of the United States Air Force. I had entered the military straight out of high school when I was 18 years old. I remember clearly that I particularly felt a sense of culture shock to discover that Japanese people dressed so similarly to Americans. Seeing that no one wears kimono I was a bit disappointed.Despite this, living in a foreign country was exciting and my experience in Okinawa influenced my life path. The second time I would come to Japan would be in 1996 after completing my undergraduate studies in the field of anthropology at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. After leaving Okinawa I had longed to return once again to Japan. I came to study and conduct research in the religious studies department of Tohoku University.


アンドリューズ先生の写真
(アンドリューズ,デール K.)
1996 Graduated from Southern Illinois University
2000 Master’s from Tohoku University
2007 PhD from Tohoku University
2011 Assistant professor of Tohoku Gakuin University

 My research relies heavily upon ethnographic fieldwork, the cornerstone of which entails going to some place, not necessarily an exotic locale, and observing people doing whatever it is that they do. I seek to uncover a pragmatic understanding of cultural and religious practices in contemporary Japan. In the nutshell, I seek out real people, both individuals and groups, as research informants. Put simply an “informant” informs in response to questions. This is not incorrect, albeit perhaps a somewhat dry and insufficient characterization of the many people I have come in contact with and indebted to during the course of my years researching in Japan. I prefer to think of the people that time and again have assisted me in understanding Japanese culture and society as teachers whoare passing on invaluable knowledge based upon their own lived experience. Everyone has something to teach. No two lives are lived exactly the same. And by engaging in conversation with people, regardless of age, gender, occupation or status, I am able to gain first-hand knowledge into how they live, and more importantly, what it means to live as a social being. For me, the process of collecting information via face-to-face communication is the most exciting and rewarding part of my studies for it provides me the opportunity to reevaluate my personal worldview. Ethnographic research is the lens by which we are able to see cultural differences and consequently acts as a catalyst for cultural and social introspection.

 My research rests comfortably in the converging fields of anthropology, folklore, and religious studies. I consider myself to be a generalist. A review of my research history shows a dedication to reporting on a variety of topics. Criticism of such an approach may emerge from a belief that by not engaging in long-term and concentrated study into one specific research area the researcher is handicapped, lacking a necessary critical depth of understanding of any one subject. However, I would argue that investigating a broad range of topics only serves to strengthen ones overall understanding of any particular culture or society.

 I began my graduate school studies in the area of occupational folklore. That is to say, I interviewed shamans in the Tohoku region regarding their professional work. Throughsuch research I gained an insightful look into how their personal religious experiences formed their cosmology, in other words, the way in which they see the world. It also revealed to me one critically important life lesson. From the discussion generated in my numerous interviews with shamans I came to understand that many of their clients suffer from conflict in interpersonal relations. An undue amount of anguish and hardship in people’s lives stems from friction found in social relationships.

 The next stage of my research was a community study. It centered upon a four year period of fieldwork conducted while living in a farming village in the Tohoku region. This was significant because the focal point of my research shifted from the individual (shaman) to the group (village community). I investigated and reported on house naming, shrines and their collective meaning, traditional dance groups, funerary customs, as well as belief in supernatural retribution. The common thread connecting all of these seemingly eclectic topics was the Japanese house system which although greatly weakened continues to have significance in the lives of people in communities throughout Japan.

 Finally, let me note that I have often stumbled upon interesting people and situations, and therefore fully recognize the value of serendipity in research.


※ このページは、2013年3月刊行の『人間情報学研究 第18巻』に掲載された記事を元にしております。その後、略歴や所属等に変更がある場合がございます。


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