Managing Boundaries between (Dirty) Work and Church Life for Indonesian Migrant Workers in Japan

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Author: Median Mutiara, Nagoya University, Japan
Email: median.mutiara@a.mbox.nagoya-u.ac.jp
Published: November 12, 2018
https://doi.org/10.22492/ijcs.3.2.04

Citation: Mutiara, M. (2018). Managing Boundaries between (Dirty) Work and Church Life for Indonesian Migrant Workers in Japan. IAFOR Journal of Cultural Studies, 3(2). https://doi.org/10.22492/ijcs.3.2.04


Abstract

This paper elucidates the boundary management between (dirty) work and religious life for Indonesian migrant workers in Japan. It answers the critical question of how migrants doing physical, dirty work in fish-processing factories navigate the boundaries between work and religious life. The data in this study was derived from fieldwork in rural Japan, through participant observation, sensory embodiment in the daily activities of migrants and interviews. The study suggests that clothing and appearance act as an on-off switch between the “fishy” job and a life with dignity at church. The boundaries between work and church for Indonesian migrant workers in Japan are located and managed via the practices of expelling the foul smells from the body and the working uniform, and by emphasizing the visibility of fashion and branding at the church.

Keywords

dirty work, church, clothing, body, Indonesian, Japan