Joshua Roth - Professor of Anthropology, Mount Holyoke College
Take a wrong turn and show up late to an appointment in Japan and it is quite likely that someone will label you “hōkō onchi” (directionally tone-deaf). The term was coined in the late 1960s, and now hundreds of thousands of Japanese identify themselves as “hōkō onchi.” The term is much more widely used than any equivalent in English, and there is reason to believe that people accept the label who do not necessarily have more difficulty in way-finding than someone who rejects it. What, then, does the label mean? What explains its initial emergence and its current transformations? Roth suggest that the rise of this mobility-related cultural category in Japan is linked to expectations of competence in a data-driven society.
Sandwiches will be served.