Hokkaido dairy farm: Change, otherness and the search for security
Hokkaido has been essential to Japan's modern nation-state building project. The region's importance was initially promoted through a polysemic quest for macro security; to secure, or fix, the northern island into the structure of modem Japan and in-so-doing to provide safety or security. Security was sought politically, militarily, and through linking economics and recourses, notably the extraction of coal and lumber and the production of food. Dairy farming became a key industry, central in
... ustry, central in defining the contemporary popular image of Hokkaido. Ironically, despite the importance of securing and security, the industry, and perhaps Hokkaido itself, remains 'Other' within the context of Japan; home to livelihoods and locations that cannot be reconciled with essentialist Japanese discourses, for example idealized images of regional cultural homogeneity, harmony, village or rural life. Today (2005-2010), Hokkaido's dairy industry is rapidly changing. Influenced by macro insecurities and uncertainties, dairy production based on pastoral mixed family farms is shifting to joint shared industrial mega and mono culture farms that require high overhead and technology, as well as workers from outside of the community. These shifts alter community, family, values, alongside relationships, both human and animal. Thus, the region has become a site of intense individual meso and micro security searching for locals, outsiders, and what I term "lo-siders" and "no-siders". All but locals can be seen as 'tourist' workers who come from across rural and urban Japan, and increasingly, from abroad. This thesis documents and examines these shifts historically. It provides a contemporary ethnographic example of one farm at the heart of change, otherness, and the search for security, where the author was employed as a dairy worker. It suggests that the triad of change, otherness, and security can be utilized as a comparative analytic frame for other 'frontier' areas - spatial and biological.