Tuesday, March 7, 2017

URSP Student Alexis Jenkins Researches How Participants in the Japanese Hip-Hop Subculture Perceive the Relationships between Hip-Hop and Japanese and American Identities

My name is Alexis Jenkins and I am a senior studying English with a minor in Japanese Studies. In the fall of 2015, I studied abroad in Akita, Japan at Akita International University for an entire semester. While I was there, I joined the school’s hip-hop dance team. Being a member of the team gave me the opportunity to not only perform in three shows and practice with a team of mostly Japanese students, but also watch and interact with hip-hop teams from a neighboring school, Akita University. The rich experience I had inspired me to explore the Japanese hip-hop subculture further when I returned home. I wanted to learn about how and why the subculture developed. I also wanted to determine whether Japanese people see hip-hop as something inherently American, Japanese, or just generally cool. My research question recently changed to the following: How do participants in the Japanese hip-hop subculture perceive the relationships between hip-hop and Japanese and American identities?

My project has involved secondary research, participant observation, and interviews with a few Japanese college students. Using these methods has given me skills that will help me as I move past college and into the working world and post-graduate education. The interview process was especially helpful in helping me develop my interpersonal skills and in improving my skills with the Japanese language.

At this point, I am still completing research on a weekly basis. I am going through the list of secondary sources I gathered, have started writing about my experiences as part of the participant observation, and I have gone through the responses of the interviews I completed. This term, I realized that my project, given my personal experiences, could not simply be a research paper; instead, I am now taking an autoethnographic approach with my writing and how I will frame the project as a whole.