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Module Reading List

Contemporary Japan in Ethnographies, 2019/20, Semester 1
Jieun Kim
Tutor information is taken from the Module Catalogue

Part One: Ethnography as a Critical Approach to Japanese Society 

Week 1 (30 Sep) Introduction to the Module 

Further readings:  

Robertson, Jennifer. 2008. “Chapter 1. Introduction: Putting and Keeping Japan in Anthropology.” A Companion to the Anthropology of Japan. John Wiley & Sons. Pp.3-16. 

Abu-Lughod, Lila. 1991. “Writing Against Culture.” In Recapturing Anthropology: Working in the Present, edited by Richard G. Fox, 137–62. Santa Fe: School of American Research Press. 


Part Two: The Precaritisation of Life and Employment 

Week 2 (7 Oct) ‘Precarious Japan’ and the End of Labour 

Suggested podcast: Anne Allison’s Precarious Japan (2013) 

Allison, Anne. 2012. “Ordinary Refugees: Social Precarity and Soul in 21st Century Japan.” Anthropological Quarterly 85 (2): 345–70.     

Cook, Emma E. 2013. “Expectations of Failure: Maturity and Masculinity for Freeters in Contemporary Japan.” Social Science Japan Journal 16 (1): 29–43.    

Whitelaw, Gavin Hamilton. “Shelf Lives and the Labors of Loss: Food, Livelihoods, and Japan’s Convenience Stores.” In Capturing Contemporary Japan. pp. 135-160.     



Week 3 (14 Oct) Entanglements of Intimacy and Work 

Kurotani, Sawa. 2014. “Working Women of the Bubble Generation.” In Capturing Contemporary Japan, pp. 83–104.      

Koch, Gabriele. 2016. “Producing Iyashi: Healing and Labor in Tokyo’s Sex Industry.” American Ethnologist 43 (4): 704–16.     

Alexy, Allison. 2011. “Intimate Dependence and Its Risks in Neoliberal Japan.” Anthropological Quarterly 84 (4): 895–917.    


Week 4 (21 Oct)— Wounded Minds 

Watch the documentaries, Bethel: Community and Schizophrenia in Northern Japan and A Japanese Funeral (both by Karen Nakamura 2017) – will be made available online.  

Nakamura, Karen. 2013. Selections from A Disability of the Soul: An Ethnography of Schizophrenia and Mental Illness in Contemporary Japan. 1 edition. Cornell University Press. pp. 114-132.     

Kaneko, Sachiko. 2006. “Japan’s ‘Socially Withdrawn Youths’ and Time Constraints in Japanese Society: Management and Conceptualization of Time in a Support Group for ‘Hikikomori.’” Time & Society 15 (2–3): 233–49.    

Kitanaka, Junko. 2015. “The Rebirth of Secrets and the New Care of the Self in Depressed Japan.” Current Anthropology 56 (S12): S251–62.    


Part Three: Living in the Ruins of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake 

Week 5 (28 Oct)— Nuclear Nation 

Sternsdorff‐Cisterna, Nicolas. 2015. “Food after Fukushima: Risk and Scientific Citizenship in Japan.” American Anthropologist 117 (3): 455–67.    

Rosenberger, Nancy. 2016. “Japanese Organic Farmers: Strategies of Uncertainty after the Fukushima Disaster.” Ethnos 81 (1): 1–24.    

Slater, David H., Rika Morioka, and Haruka Danzuka. 2014. “Micro-Politics of Radiation.” Critical Asian Studies 46 (3): 485–508.    


Part Three: 'Global Japan' and Its Others 

Week 6 (4 Nov)— Crossing and Remaking Boundaries 

Watch the documentary, ‘In Leila’s Room’ (by Suma Ikeuchi 2016) – will be made available online. 

Ikeuchi, Suma. 2017. “From Ethnic Religion to Generative Selves: Pentecostalism among Nikkei Brazilian Migrants in Japan.” Contemporary Japan 29 (2): 214–29.    

Yamaura, Chigusa. 2015. “Marrying Transnational, Desiring Local: Making ‘Marriageable Others’ in Japanese–Chinese Cross-Border Matchmaking.” Anthropological Quarterly 88 (4): 1029–58.     

Sedgwick, Mitchell. 2007. “Circulating Others among Japanese Managers: Perceiving Difference, Explaining to Ourselves.” In Globalisation and Japanese Organisational Culture: An Ethnography of a Japanese Corporation in France. 1 edition. London ; New York: Routledge. pp. 163-182.     


Week 7 (11 Oct)— Reading Week: No Class  


Week 8 (18 Nov)— Japan in the Global Hierarchy  

Watanabe, Chika. 2017. “Development as Pedagogy: On Becoming Good Models in Japan and Myanmar.” American Ethnologist 44 (4): 591–602.    

Sleeboom-Faulkner, Margaret, and Prasanna Kumar Patra. 2011. “Experimental Stem Cell Therapy: Biohierarchies and Bionetworking in Japan and India.” Social Studies of Science 41 (5): 645–66.    

Świtek, Beata. 2014. “Representing the Alternative: Demographic Change, Migrant Eldercare Workers, and National Imagination in Japan.” Contemporary Japan 26 (2): 263–280.    


Part Four: Ageing and Dying Bodies 

Week 9 (25 Nov)– Managed Ageing 

Kavedžija, Iza. 2016. “The Age of Decline? Anxieties about Ageing in Japan.” Ethnos 81 (2): 214–37.    

Shakuto, Shiori. 2018. “An Independent and Mutually Supportive Retirement as a Moral Ideal in Contemporary Japan.” The Australian Journal of Anthropology 29 (2): 184–94.    

Kawano, Satsuki. 2004. “Pre-Funerals in Contemporary Japan: The Making of a New Ceremony of Later Life among Aging Japanese.” Ethnology 43 (2): 155–65.    


Week 10 (2 Dec)— New Forms of Care for the Elderly and the Dead 

Suggested podcast: Mark Rowe’s Bonds of the Dead: Temples, Burial, and the Transformation of Contemporary Japanese Buddhism (2011) 

Danely, Jason. 2019. “The Limits of Dwelling and the Unwitnessed Death.” Cultural Anthropology 34 (2): 213–39.    

Marr, Matthew D. 2019. “The ‘Ohaka’ (Grave) Project: Post-Secular Social Service Delivery and Resistant Necropolitics in San’ya, Tokyo.” Ethnography, May, 146613811984539.    

Long, Susan O. 2012. “Bodies, Technologies, and Aging in Japan: Thinking About Old People and Their Silver Products.” Journal of Cross-Culturalerontology 27 (2): 119–37.    


Part Five: The Human-Robot Relationships 

Week 11 (9 Dec) – Posthuman Japan? 

Wright, James. 2019. “Robots vs Migrants? Reconfiguring the Future of Japanese Institutional Eldercare.” Critical Asian Studies 51 (3): 331–54.    

Robertson, Jennifer. 2007. “Robo Sapiens Japanicus: Humanoid Robots and the Posthuman Family.” Critical Asian Studies 39 (3): 369–98.    

Katsuno, Hirofumi. 2011. “The Robot’s Heart: Tinkering with Humanity and Intimacy in Robot-Building.” Japanese Studies 31 (1): 93–109.    


This list was last updated on 27/09/2019