Oregon State University

Dr. Nancy Rosenberger

rosenbergerAnthropology
Professor
212 Waldo Hall
Phone: 541-737-3857
Email: Nancy Rosenberger

Ph.D. Anthropology, University of Michigan 1984
M.A. Anthropology, University of Michigan 1978
M.A. Center for Japanese Studies, University of Michigan 1976
B.A. English Literature, College of Wooster 1970

I have four ongoing projects that reflect my research interests. They center on food insecurity, agriculture, gender, and small-scale business in Oregon, Japan, and Tajikistan. I welcome graduate students whose research interests are related to mine.

Low-income Gleaners in Oregon: In conjunction with the Gleaners Groups of the Linn-Benton Food Share, I am doing an oral history project with Gleaners. Gleaners are volunteers who work to increase their food insecurity through various forms of food gleaning.  They gather and distribute the food not only to people in their group but also to adoptees who cannot participate because of disabilities.  We are going to interview people about their achievements and challenges throughout their lives as well as about their participation in Gleaning. Graduate students will be helping me with this project. 

Organic Agriculture in Japan: In 2012, I conducted in-depth interviews with over forty organic farmers in Japan, particularly in the Northeast (Tohoku) and around Tokyo. I am analyzing that material and writing on it with the help of a grant from the Center of Humanities at Oregon State University. One important question is: How do farmers who were affected by Fukushima radiation respond to the situation of radiation in their food and fields? An article on this will be published soon in Ethnos. Another important question is: How have organic farmers changed in Japan from the 1970s to the 2010s?  Especially I am interested in the contrast of how the nature of resistance has changed in a developed economy like Japan from the post-war era of modern capitalism to the present era of neoliberal politics and late modern capitalism.  What kind of resistance is possible, feasible, or desirable to the participants? Women in organic agriculture is another interest of mine and a chapter in Capturing Contemporary Japan, an edited volume out of University of Hawaii, hones in on one young woman farmer.

Small Businesswomen in Tajikistan: During my sabbatical I interviewed over fifty very small-scale businesswomen in four regions of Tajikistan. Many of them started making and selling bread, samosa, or dresses in the bazaar when their family had literally nothing during and after the Civil War in the 90s. Some have grown their businesses on small loans, but many have grown loaf by loaf into businesses that support their families and in some cases send their children to university. With husbands and/or sons who often migrate to Russia for work, globalization affects women by making them the ‘ones left behind’ who must fend for themselves, occasionally receiving monetary remittances. Main questions in this research are: What are the barriers to business and what eases business for women? What are the impacts of doing business on women, their families, and their communities? How do women negotiate cultural and gender values that are longstanding yet changing as Tajiks participate in the global market?

The Changing Lives of Japanese Women: Ever since 1993, I have been engaged in a longitudinal study with a group of women in Japan who were single and between the ages of 25 and 35 when I began. My latest book on this study is just coming out from University of Hawaii Press: Dilemmas of Adulthood: Nuances of Long-term Resistance among Japanese Women. In this book I propose that the terms of ambiguity and ambivalence, which are often simple descriptors, are central concepts that describe the type of long-term resistance that these women practice in this age of late modernity. Raised in the post-war era of economic growth, they carry both a strong sense communicated by their mothers of what it is to be a proper post-war Japanese woman and a consciousness constructed by their generation of what they hope for in meaningful marriages, work, and hobbies. The book traces the thoughts and actions of single women, those married without children, and married women, working and non-working, to see how long-term resistance plays out in women’s lives. Life has more possibilities than in the past, but also more risks, with few scripts to lead them forward. The book ends with an epilogue that shows their reactions to the new risks that envelope them after the 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and radiation.

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