Graduate Student Forum

Time to Be a Child: Everyday Life in Japanese Foster Care

Tuesday, 26 July 2022 | 9:00 - 9:45 (JST)
Zoom Meeting
  • Christopher Chapman Waseda University (Anthropology, the University of Oxford)
  • Sawako Shirahase TCJS Director
Event Description

Children in Japan’s welfare system live at the margins of society. They have less access to educational opportunities and social resources and live separate from the expectation that parents care for their children. This paper centers on the Hasegawa family, a foster family in Tokyo. Through participant observation and narrative story work—chronicles invoked from the family through photography, drawing, and discussion—I explore the family’s everyday experiences. Importantly, the children share their own stories, which are often overlooked in social work. I trace the intersection of family, medicine, and state that shaped their lives. In contrast to the detached outlook of welfare workers, the children show an affectionate family. Although some children intimate a hidden sadness, they reclaim a space to enjoy their childhood. While I uncover inequalities in access to psychological care, I also find that the home and family remain the most impactful mediators of well-being.

About the Speaker

Christopher Chapman is a DPhil Candidate in Anthropology at the University of Oxford. His doctoral research explores the intersection between family, child welfare, and health in Japan. Originally from the United States, he received a B.S. in Sociology from Rocky Mountain College and an M.A. in Anthropology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.