Volume 22, Issue 3
  • ISSN 1018-2101
  • E-ISSN: 2406-4238


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 “”) 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.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Arboleda, T.
    (1998) In the shadow of race: Growing up as a multiethnic, multicultural, and ‘multiracial’ American. New Jersey: Laurence Erlbaum.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Antaki, C. , and S. Widdicombe
    (1998a) Identity as an achievement and as a tool. In C. Antaki , and S. Widdicombe (eds.), Identities in talk. London: Sage, pp.1–14.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. (eds.) (1998b) Identities in talk. London: Sage.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Bell, A.
    (1999) Styling the other to define the self: A study in New Zealand identity making. Journal of Sociolinguistics3.4: 523–541. doi: 10.1111/1467‑9481.00094
    https://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-9481.00094 [Google Scholar]
  5. Bilmes, J.
    (2009) Taxonomies are for talking: Reanalyzing a Sacks classic. Journal of Pragmatics41.6: 1600–1610. doi: 10.1016/j.pragma.2008.10.008
    https://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2008.10.008 [Google Scholar]
  6. (2011) Occasioned semantics: A systematic approach to meaning in talk. Human Studies. Human Studies34.2: 129–153. doi: 10.1007/s10746‑011‑9183‑z
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s10746-011-9183-z [Google Scholar]
  7. Bucholtz, M.
    (1999) You da man: Narrating the racial other in the production of white masculinity. Journal of Sociolinguistics3.4: 443–460. doi: 10.1111/1467‑9481.00090
    https://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-9481.00090 [Google Scholar]
  8. (2003) Theories of discourse as theories of gender: Discourse analysis in language and gender studies. In J. Holmes , and M. Meyerhoff (eds.), The handbook of language and gender. Oxford: Blackwell, pp.43–68. doi: 10.1002/9780470756942.ch2
    https://doi.org/10.1002/9780470756942.ch2 [Google Scholar]
  9. (2011) ‘It’s different for guys’: Gendered narratives of racial conflict among California youth. Discourse & Society22.4: 385–402. doi: 10.1177/0957926510395832
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926510395832 [Google Scholar]
  10. Bucholtz, M. , and K. Hall
    (2005) Identity and interaction: A sociocultural linguistic approach. Discourse Studies7.4-5: 585–614. doi: 10.1177/1461445605054407
    https://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1461445605054407 [Google Scholar]
  11. (2008) Finding identity: Theory and data. Multilingua27.1/2: 151–163. doi: 10.1515/MULTI.2008.008
    https://doi.org/10.1515/MULTI.2008.008 [Google Scholar]
  12. Damari, R.R.
    (2010) Intertextual stancetaking and the local negotiation of cultural identities by a binational couple. Journal of Sociolinguistics14.5: 609–629. doi: 10.1111/j.1467‑9841.2010.00456.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9841.2010.00456.x [Google Scholar]
  13. Day, D.
    (1998) Being ascribed, and resisting membership of an ethnic group. In C. Antaki , and S. Widdicombe (eds.), Identities in talk. London: Sage, pp.151–170.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Delgado, R. , and J. Stefancic
    (2001) Critical race theory: An introduction. New York, NY: New York University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. du Bois, J.
    (2007) The stance triangle. In R. Englebretson (ed.), Stancetaking in discourse: Subjectivity, evaluation, interaction. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company, pp.137–182. doi: 10.1207/s15327973rlsi3001_1
    https://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org/10.1207/s15327973rlsi3001_1 [Google Scholar]
  16. Egbert, M.
    (1997) Schisming: The collaborative transformation from a single conversation to multiple conversation. Research on Language and Social Interaction30.1: 1–51. doi: 10.1075/pbns.164.07du
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.164.07du [Google Scholar]
  17. Enfield, N.J. , and T. Stivers
    (eds.) (2007) Person reference in interaction: Linguistic, cultural and social perspectives. New York: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511486746
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511486746 [Google Scholar]
  18. Garner, S.
    (2007) Whiteness: An introduction. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Gaskins, P.
    (1999) What are you? Voices of mixed-race young people. New York: Henry Holt and Company.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Green, M. , C. Sonn , and J. Matsebula
    (2007) Reviewing whiteness: Theory, research, and possibilities. South African Journal of Psychology37.3: 389–419. doi: 10.1177/008124630703700305
    https://doi.org/10.1177/008124630703700305 [Google Scholar]
  21. Greer, T.
    (2001) Half, double or somewhere in-between? Multi-faceted identities among biracial Japanese. Japan Journal of Multilingualism and Multiculturalism7.1: 1–17.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. (2003) Multiethnic Japanese identity: An applied conversation analysis. Japan Journal of Multilingualism and Multiculturalism9.1: 1–23.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. (2005) The multi-ethnic paradox: Towards a fluid notion of being haafu. Japan Journal of Multilingualism and Multiculturalism11.1: 1–18.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. (2007) Accomplishing identity in interaction: Codeswitching practices among a group of multiethnic Japanese teenagers. Unpublished Ed.D., University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Australia.
  25. (2008) Accomplishing difference in bilingual interaction: Translation as backwards-oriented medium repair. Multilingua27.1/2: 99–127. doi: 10.1515/MULTI.2008.006
    https://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/MULTI.2008.006 [Google Scholar]
  26. (2010) Switching languages, juggling identities: A sequence of multilingual, multiparty talk. In G. Kasper , H.t. Nguyen , D. Yoshimi , and J. Yoshioka (eds.), Pragmatics and language learning Vol. 12. Honolulu, HA: National Foreign Language Resource Center, University of Hawai’i, pp.43–65.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. He, A.W.
    (2004) CA for SLA: Arguments from the Chinese language classroom. The Modern Language Journal8.iv: 568–582. doi: 10.1111/j.0026‑7902.2004.t01‑19‑.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0026-7902.2004.t01-19-.x [Google Scholar]
  28. Hester, S. , and P. Eglin
    (1997a) Culture in action: Studies in membership categorization analysis. Washington D.C.: International Institute for Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis & University Press of America.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. (1997b) Membership categorization anlaysis: An introduction. In S. Hester , and P. Eglin (eds.), Culture in action: Studies in membership categorization analysis. Washington D.C.: International Institute for Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis & University Press of America, pp.1–23.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Housley, W. , and R. Fitzgerald
    (2002) The reconsidered model of membership categorization analysis. Qualitative Research2: 59–83. doi: 10.1177/146879410200200104
    https://doi.org/10.1177/146879410200200104 [Google Scholar]
  31. Iwabuchi
    (1994) Complicit exoticism: Japan and its other. Who imagines ‘Japaneseness’?: Orientalism, occidentalism and self-orientalism. Continuum: The Australian Journal of Media & Culture8.2: 49–82. doi: 10.1080/10304319409365669
    https://doi.org/10.1080/10304319409365669 [Google Scholar]
  32. Jaworski, A. , and C. Thurlow
    (2009) Taking an elitist stance: Ideology and the discursive production of social distinction. In A. Jaffe (ed.), Perspectives on stance. New York & London: Oxford University Press, pp.195–226. doi: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195331646.003.0009
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195331646.003.0009 [Google Scholar]
  33. Jayyusi, L.
    (1984) Categorization and the moral order. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. JMHLW
    (2006) Annual report on population change statistics (jinko dotai tokei nenho). Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. Retrieved 16 May 2006 , from: www.mhlw.go.jp/toukei/saikin/hw/jinkou/suii04/index.html
    [Google Scholar]
  35. Kamada, L.
    (2008) Discursive ‘embodied’ identities of ‘half’ girls in Japan: A multi-perspective approach. In K. Harrington , L. Litosseliti , H. Sauntson , and J. Sunderland (eds.), Gender and language research methodology. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.174–190.
    [Google Scholar]
  36. (2009) Mixed-ethnic girls and boys as similarly powerless and powerful: Embodiment of attractiveness and grotesqueness. Discourse Studies11.3: 329–352. doi: 10.1177/1461445609102447
    https://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1461445609102447 [Google Scholar]
  37. (2010) Hybrid identities and adolescent girls: Being “half” in Japan. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
    [Google Scholar]
  38. Keisanen, T.
    (2007) Stancetaking as an interactional activity: Challenging the prior speaker. In R. Englebretson (ed.), Stancetaking in discourse. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company, pp.253–281. doi: 10.1075/pbns.164
    https://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org/10.1075/pbns.164 [Google Scholar]
  39. Kitzinger, C.
    (2000) Doing feminist conversation analysis. Feminism & Psychology10.2: 163–193. doi: 10.1177/0959353500010002001
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0959353500010002001 [Google Scholar]
  40. (2005) Speaking as a heterosexual: (How) does sexuality matter for talk-in-interaction. Research on Language and Social Interaction38.3: 221–293. doi: 10.1207/s15327973rlsi3803_2
    https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327973rlsi3803_2 [Google Scholar]
  41. (2007) Feminist conversation analysis: Research by students at the University of York. Feminism & Psychology17: 133–148. doi: 10.1177/0959353507076542
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0959353507076542 [Google Scholar]
  42. (2008) Conversation Analysis: Technical matters for gender research. In K. Harrington , L. Litosseliti , H. Sauntson , and J. Sunderland (eds.), Gender and language research methodologies. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.119–138.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. Lee, S.
    (1998) Zainichi gaikokijin no boshi kenko (The maternity health of foreigners living in Japan). Tokyo: Igakushoin.
    [Google Scholar]
  44. Lerner, G.
    (1996) On the place of linguistic resources in the organization of talk-in-interaction: ‘Second-person’ reference in multi-party interaction. Pragmatics6.3: 281–294.
    [Google Scholar]
  45. Luke, C. , and A. Luke
    (1998) Interracial families: Difference within difference. Ethnic and Racial Studies21.4: 728–753. doi: 10.1080/014198798329847
    https://doi.org/10.1080/014198798329847 [Google Scholar]
  46. Murphy-Shigematsu, S.
    (2001) Multiethnic lives and monoethnic myths: American-Japanese Amerasians in Japan. In T.K. Williams-Leon , and C.L. Nakashima (eds.), The sum of our parts: Mixed heritage Asian Americans. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, pp.207–218.
    [Google Scholar]
  47. Nakashima, D.A.
    (2001) A rose by any other name: Names, multiracial/multiethnic people and the politics of identity. In T. Williams-Leon , and C.L. Nakashima (eds.), The sum of our parts: Mixed heritage Asian Americans. Philidelphia: Temple University Press, pp.111–129.
    [Google Scholar]
  48. Okano, K. , and M. Tsuchiya
    (1999) Education in contemporary Japan: Inequality and diversity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  49. Psathas, G.
    (1999) Studying the organization in action: Membership categorization and interaction analysis. Human Studies22.2-4: 139–162. doi: 10.1023/A:1005422932589
    https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1005422932589 [Google Scholar]
  50. Rampton, B.
    (1999) Styling the other: Introduction. Journal of Sociolinguistics3.4: 421–427. doi: 10.1111/1467‑9481.00088
    https://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-9481.00088 [Google Scholar]
  51. Rauniomaa, M.
    (2003) Stance accretion: Some initial observations. Unpublished manuscript, University of California, Santa Barbara.
  52. Sacks, H.
    (1972a) An initial investigation of the usability of conversational data for doing sociology. In D. Sudnow (ed.), Studies in social interaction. New York: Free Press, pp.31–74.
    [Google Scholar]
  53. (1972b) On the analyzability of stories by children. In J. Gumperz , and D. Hymes (eds.), Directions in sociolinguistics. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, pp.325–345.
    [Google Scholar]
  54. (1992) Lectures in conversation (Vol. I & II). Oxford: Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  55. Sadanobu, T.
    (2008) Rikimu kenri, rikimu gimu [The right to strain, the responsibility to strain]. Nihongogaku27.5: 178–186.
    [Google Scholar]
  56. Schegloff, E.
    (2007a) Sequence organization in interaction: A primer in conversation analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511791208
    https://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511791208 [Google Scholar]
  57. (2007b) A tutorial on membership categorization. Journal of Pragmatics39: 462–482. doi: 10.1016/j.pragma.2006.07.007
    https://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2006.07.007 [Google Scholar]
  58. Singer, J.
    (2000) Japan’s singular ‘doubles’. Japan Quarterly47.2: 76–82.
    [Google Scholar]
  59. Speer, S.
    (2005) Gender talk: Feminism, discourse and conversation analysis. East Sussex, UK: Routledge. doi: 10.4324/9780203321447
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203321447 [Google Scholar]
  60. Stokoe, E.H.
    (2009) Categories, actions and sequences: Formulating gender in talk-in-interaction. In K. Harrington , L. Litosseliti , H. Sauntson , and J. Sunderland (eds.), Gender and language research methodologies. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.139–157.
    [Google Scholar]
  61. (2012) Moving forward with membership categorization analysis: Methods for systematic analysis. Discourse Studies14.3: 277–303. doi: 10.1177/1461445612441534
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1461445612441534 [Google Scholar]
  62. Takahashi, M. , and S. Vaipae
    (1996) Gaijin seito ga yattekita (“Here come the Gaijin students”). Tokyo: Taishukan.
    [Google Scholar]
  63. Wallace, K.
    (2004) Situating multiethnic identity: Contributions of discourse theory to the study of mixed heritage students. Language, Identity and Education3.3: 195–213. doi: 10.1207/s15327701jlie0303_2
    https://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org/10.1207/s15327701jlie0303_2 [Google Scholar]
  64. Watson, R.
    (1978) Categorisation, authorisation and blame-negotiation in conversation. Sociology12:105-113. doi: 10.1177/003803857801200106
    https://doi.org/10.1177/003803857801200106 [Google Scholar]
  65. Wilkinson, S. , and C. Kitzinger
    (2003) Constructing identities: A feminist conversation analytic approach to positioning in action. In R. Harré , and A. Moghaddam (eds.), The self and others: Positioning individuals and groups in personal, political and cultural contexts. New York: Praeger/Greenwood, pp.157–180.
    [Google Scholar]
  66. Whitehead, K.
    (2009) “Categorizing the categorizer”: The management of racial common sense in interaction. Social Psychology Quarterly72.4: 325–342. doi: 10.1177/019027250907200406
    https://doi.org/10.1177/019027250907200406 [Google Scholar]
  67. Whitehead, K. , and G. Lerner
    (2009) When are persons ‘white’?: On some practical asymmetries of racial reference in talk-in-interaction. Discourse & Society20.5: 613–641. doi: 10.1177/0957926509106413
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926509106413 [Google Scholar]
  68. Zimmerman, D.H.
    (1998) Identity, context and interaction. In C. Antaki , and S. Widdicombe (eds.), Identities in talk. London: Sage, pp.87–106.
    [Google Scholar]
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error