Accomplishing multiethnic identity in mundane talk: Half-Japanese teenagers at an international school

Tim Greer

Abstract

This paper examines identity-related interaction in a group of teenagers at an international school in Japan, focusing particularly on the discursive accomplishment of multiethnic identity among so-called half-Japanese (or “haafu”) people. The study employs Conversation Analysis (CA) and Membership Categorization Analysis (MCA) to document three instances of mundane talk in which such multiethnic Japanese teenagers are ethnified through the use of various identity categories and their associated activities and attributes. The analysis demonstrates that multiethnic people use a variety of discursive practices to refute unwanted ethnification, including reworking the category, casting themselves in a different category and refusing to react to category-based provocations. Common to all three cases is the fundamental issue of how ethnicity becomes a resource for speakers in everyday conversation.

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