Sharleen Estampador Hughson

Sharleen Estampador Hughson


Thesis Title: The JET Programme: generating soft power through memory and the everyday
Academic Supervisors: Dr Peter Matanle, Dr Harald Conrad

Academic Background

B.A. International Studies with a minor in Southeast/East Asia at the University of South Florida

MSc. International Relations at the University of Aberdeen

Research Project

Thesis Title: The JET Programme: generating soft power through memory and the everyday
Academic Supervisors: Peter Matanle, Harald Conrad

My study examines the experience of 24 individuals and my own, who have participated on the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme (JET) and those on the previous schemes (BET and MEF) from the 1980s to 2010s. The distinctiveness of this research results from the examination of the participants’ personal histories. Their narratives are crucial for the development of soft power at the individual, micro-level. Therefore, this study demonstrates the noteworthiness of nostalgia, concerning the movement of soft power.

By applying a theoretical framework consisting of everyday life theory, specifically the theory of everyday life and phenomenology, this research will explore the phenomena of memory and nostalgia as important areas for the promulgation of soft power. Everyday life theory is about the emancipation of the individual from the tediousness of the everyday, in order to derive truth and significance from personal accounts. JETs are able to compare their own routines and values with another that is different to their own, resulting in leading to the emancipation of parochial confinements. The participants share traits that follow a similar progression through their experience on the programme. This has led to thematic similarities tied to the experience. These include:

  • Seeking opportunity, youth and the backdrop of uncertainty
  • Imagining Japan and its stereotypes
  • Experiencing adversity and acculturating to Japan
  • The reflection of nostalgia after leaving the programme.

Through a cycle involving these themes, there is a production of nostalgic memories that are disseminated abroad.

Research Activity

Conference presentations

  • Japan in our Future’s Conference (organiser and presenter)
  • University of Heidelberg International Sumer School: Cluster of Excellence Asian and Europe, Sites of Knowledge: Space, Locality, and Circulation between Asian and Europe
  • Hokkaido University TLLP Study Work Session 7/29-30
  • Hokkaido University TLLP Tandem Learning Language Project
  • JETAA UK Academic special Interest Group Event (Organiser and presenter)

Published Articles

  • Personal Impact of Soft Power (ACUMEN Magazine British Chamber of Commerce in Japan)
  • Applying Quantum GIS to Social Research (Spotlight East Asia @ Sheffield School of East Asian Studies at the University of Sheffield)

Awards and funding

ESRC studentship, WREAC language training studentship