Mobile Methods for Bodies in Motion: Moving with Sindhi Women in Japan | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online


Years ago, while on fieldwork for my Master’s thesis to interview Sindhi merchants in Japan, I found myself an unwitting accomplice to the routines of the women of this community. In their day to day running of the household, the Sindhi women’s interactivity webbed intricate networks. They would regularly engage in cross-cultural negotiations with the Japanese housekeeper, vendors at the wet market and neighbourhood co-op. They took charge of cultural events at the community’s social hub and through the rigorous structure of women’s groups they fuelled the grapevine with fellow housewives within the diaspora. Fluid sites of exchange emerged as I realized a world of movement in the mundane everyday; routes of gendered mobility paved in practice yet unrecognized – neither in scholarship on the Sindhi diaspora nor by the community, and therefore unarticulated. In this paper, I reflect on the ‘left-behind’ as bodies – and stories – in motion who could come to light when analyzed at the intersection of gender and mobility, where mobility is relational and multi-scalar in dimension. To explore the worlds of women as ‘left-behind housewives’, I consider the approach of mobile ethnography for both its theoretically expansive potential and its value as method. The latter I believe, would allow me to move in tandem with the women even as they appear stationary – immobile (?) – in the supposed humdrum of their everyday existence. My discussion here informs my research design for fieldwork in the near future as I seek to understand the lives and roles of women in Japan’s Sindhi merchant diaspora for my PhD thesis.


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