Asian Ethnology Podcast

Interview with Andreas Riessland: What Happens When Fieldwork Fails?

Interviewer: Benjamin Dorman

Recorded 7 March 2020, Nagoya

In this episode anthropologist Andreas Riessland discusses his research on Japanese biker gangs (bōsōzoku) and a project involving Shugendō Buddhist and Shinto groups that ended in failure due to various struggles between the groups. He also discusses how he came to terms with the failure, and offers advice to researchers who confront “failure” in fieldwork.

Publications discussed in this episode

Bōsōzoku no esunogurafii: Mōdo no hanran to bunka no jubaku. (Ethnography of the Bōsōzoku: Fashion Rebellion and Culture’s Shackles), Sato, Ikuya. 1984, Shin’yōsha KK.

Kamikaze Biker: Parody and Anomy in Affluent Japan., Sato, Ikuya. 1991. University of Chicago Press.

"A Mountain of Problems: Ethnography among Mount Haguro’s Feuding Yamabushi," in Eades, J. S. et al. (eds.)Globalization and Social Change in Contemporary Japan., Riessland, Andreas. 2000. Trans Pacific Press.

Music used with kind permission of shamisen performer Koji Yamaguchi.

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