Sophia University Institute of Comparative Culture Lecture Series 2011
Prostitution, Emigration and Nation-Building 1870-1930.
17:30-19:00, Oct.18, 2011
Room 301, Building 10, Sophia University Yotsuya Campus
The focus of this presentation is on how the systematic restructuring of bureaucratic knowledge was instrumental in transforming Meiji sensibilities regarding the sex life of the poor. Sex and bureaucracy are considered opposite forces, but bureaucrats redefined peasant women finding work abroad, who had been understood as filial daughters, making them into ‘unsightly women abroad.’ The spread of Japanese women engaging in sex work overseas intensified the discord the Japanese government faced over how to promote and facilitate and, at the same time, control and limit, the movement of Japanese subjects abroad. My talk will show how, over time, the Japanese consuls’ role of obtaining information relating to trade and settlement transformed into one concerned with the administration and control of Japanese living overseas.
My presentation is part of a broader historical study of the gendered and class impact of Japan’s first encounter with globalisation that began in the 1860s. The women who worked in overseas brothels, I argue, must be first understood as peasants unchained from the land by Meiji land and tax policies, who become “free labour” searching for work in the colonial cities of Asia. The integration of Japanese women into the global work-force involved a series of activities not normally recognised with work – the fixing of cultural standards of ideal womanhood, and strategically, public opinion.
Bill Mihalopoulos is Assistant Professor in the Global Leaders Program, Dong-A University, Busan. He is author of Sex in Japan’s Gobalization, 1870-1930 (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2011). Based on archival research undertaken in Japan and Britain, Sex in Japan’s Gobalization offers a new perspective on the relations between gender hierarchies and the political economy in a newly modernized Japan. The industrialization of Japan in the late nineteenth century coincided with attempts to establish new trade links abroad. The peasant class were sent overseas as ‘free labourers’ in a state-sponsored programme that also sought to maintain traditional codes of behaviour and morally acceptable forms of work. This study examines the particular impact of these restrictions on Japanese prostitutes abroad and reveals how the freedom offered to the poor by the state was limited and highly selective.
No registration required
Lecture in English
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