“China, why not?”: serious leisure and transmigrant runners’ stories from Beijing

The purpose of this study was to examine how amateur, serious distance runners negotiate their running practices upon transnational migration to China. Despite the extensive body of research into expatriate experiences and adaptation, serious leisure as a site where meaning-making occurs has not been studied in existing research. Through interviews with five female and two male expatriates, we studied the ways in which Western runners brought meaning to the transition experience and negotiated meanings and bodily practices associated with running. Through narrative analysis, we identified three core narratives of migration (possibility, necessity and growing up) and two emergent narratives (community and running to feel like oneself) about shifting meaning in running. We conclude with implications for future research in serious leisure and migration studies.


Ronkainen, N.J., Harrison, M., Shuman, A. & Ryba, T.V. (2016). “China, why not?”: Serious leisure and transmigrant runners’ stories from Beijing. Leisure Studies, http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02614367.2016.1141977.

Student Testimonials

A vital part of my teaching pedagogy involves metacognition and reflective writing. The following are excerpts from mid-course and final reflective letters, as well as emails and Facebook posts, written by students around the world who have taken my courses. Click the course title to view its syllabus; click the students’ names to visit their course blogs and to view each quote’s original source. Feedback is available from the following courses:

Continue reading “Student Testimonials”

PhD Research: Language & Identity

“…I ask him if he is ‘out’ and he looks at me, moves his head slightly forward and asks, ‘Pardon?’”

“Are you out of the closet?” I explain.

He shakes his head from side to side a little, leans in and says slowly, “I’m not gay in Japanese, I’m only gay in English.”

The above excerpt introduces Marlen Elliot Harrison’s “Discovering Voices,” an examination of language, sexuality, and identity in 21st century Japan. After living and teaching in Western Japan for 4 years, Harrison returned to the United States to complete a doctoral program in applied linguistics. When considering a dissertation topic, he recalled a conversation in which a friend discussed being gay in one language and not in another (above) and wanted to further explore why this might be. By weaving together his own narratives about Japan and sexuality with the autoethnographic narratives of queer Japanese individuals, Harrison showcases the intersection between linguistic repertoire and those critical moments when we conceptualize, reveal, and perform our sexualities. Harrison writes:

I can remember my reaction to Takashi’s statement – confusion. “I’m not sure I understand what you mean,” I replied. Takashi went on to explain that his family, co-workers, and most of his Japanese friends were unaware of his sexuality. What is it about English that Takashi should say that? Did he mean 1) that the actual word “gay” had either a different meaning or no meaning for him in Japanese, but a very specific meaning in English or vice versa; 2) that he prefers to reveal or perform his sexuality with English speakers or using the English language; or 3) that for Takashi, “gay” only exists as an identity construction in non-Japanese contexts? In other words, with regards to this last possibility, perhaps Takashi does not consider himself to have constructed a “gay” identity in his L1 communities, or if he has, perhaps this identity is silenced there (or according to Yoshino, “covered”) but expressed in other linguistic communities.

In this dissertation, Harrison introduces a puzzle of questions and responds to them by discussing key theoretical and methodological themes such as imagined communities and the role of narrative in sexuality ethnography, examining histories of same sex intimacy in Japan,  and considering the social significance of English language and culture in Japan.

Please browse this site for excerpts, background information, correspondence with participants, and other related projects from this researcher. http://DiscoveringVoices.com

MensJournal.com: 10 Best New Colognes for Men


10 Best New Colognes for Men

“It goes without saying that a man’s smell is a deeply personal thing. It’s also, by default, a natural form of self-expression. So to get a feel for the best scents being offered this year, we consulted with Marlen Harrison, creator and editor of theperfumecritic.com and contributor to BasenotesNowSmellThis,and Fragrantica. “This season it’s all about the wood,” says Harrison, referring to many current fragrances that are dominated by woody scents, typically sandalwood, cedar, and oud. Some even contain a dash of citrus or aromatic notes for character. Think of fragrances as similar to wines, whiskeys, or cigars; they all have various layers of notes and their characters are apt to change over time. With input from Harrison, we compiled a list of 2013’s 10 best new colognes.”



“Some deodorants offer the perfect amount of subtle, lasting fragrance without coating your neck or chest with chemicals that will burn your lover’s lips, says Marlen Harrison, a scent critic and founder of King’s Palace Perfumery. He recommends this option from New York-based apothecary Malin + Goetz, but says you can find many colognes—from Dior to Acqua di Parma—in deodorant form.”