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Puzo, Ieva (2017) THE LOCAL LIVES OF GLOBAL SCIENCE: FOREIGN SCIENTISTS IN JAPAN’S RESEARCH INSTITUTIONS. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Based on an examination of the experiences of foreign scientists in Japan’s academic research institutions, this dissertation investigates the mobility of highly skilled workers in the context of scientific production. In recent decades, the Japanese government has embraced the rhetoric of research excellence and listed the recruitment of international researchers as one of the means of achieving this goal. Through these measures, Japan participates in the transnational circulation of science workers who, in turn, have come to share a tacit understanding that transnational movements constitute an increasingly indispensable aspect of the scientific practice world-wide. Considering the extent to which mobility has come to be discursively ingrained in scientific production, my project inquires into the strategies young foreign scientists in Japan’s research organizations employ to make sense of their own mobility and immobility, as well as the socio-economic uncertainties enveloping these experiences.
In the dissertation, I analyze data collected during 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork, conducted in 2012-14. While based in Osaka, I carried out semi-structured and unstructured interviews, as well as extensive participant observation with foreign life scientists working at various public research institutions in Japan’s Kansai and Kantō regions. Focusing on the experiences of early career researchers (PhD students and postdoctoral researchers), I argue that that my interlocutors rely on localized and localizing explanations in order to make sense of the socio-economic uncertainties they experience as participants in global scientific labor regimes. Focusing on the ways young scientists conceptualize employment, foreignness, and gender, as well as the national and individual level ambivalences surrounding their presence in the country, I show how my interlocutors discursively employ Japan for active production of certainty. Highlighting the young foreign scientists’ hope for immobility, I suggest that Japan emerges as a space where global patterns of scientific labor are, ironically, both intensified and rendered invisible. My project thus captures the lived and embodied tensions that emerge at moments when the local and the transnational in scientific production meet, as well as the multitude of sense-making practices science workers employ to navigate the uncertainties such ambivalences entail.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Puzo, Ievaiet3@pitt.eduiet3
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairLukacs,
Committee MemberAlter,
Committee MemberMatza,
Committee MemberKuchinskaya,
Date: 1 July 2017
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 7 November 2016
Approval Date: 1 July 2017
Submission Date: 13 April 2017
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 218
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Anthropology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: cultural anthropology, Japan, mobility, labor, science work
Date Deposited: 01 Jul 2017 22:41
Last Modified: 01 Jul 2022 05:15


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