Emma Cook degree icon

Associate Professor

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Research Faculty of Media and Communication, Hokkaido University

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Feel free to contact me at:

cook [at] imc.hokudai.ac.jp

Gender and Sexuality in Postwar Japan

The aims of this course are to give a broad overview of gender, sexuality and society with a particular focus on contemporary Japanese society. We explore a variety of ethnographic and theoretical materials (including readings and films) on how gender and sexuality has been culturally constructed and experienced in the socio-historical context of postwar Japan. We also explore how ethnographic studies can qualify and inform questions about gender in society. Therefore the course, whilst focusing mostly on Japan, is inherently comparative in context and scope.

For required and recommended readings, please download the syllabus.

For a list of essay questions, please download this document.


Weekly Schedule (Spring 2017)

Week 1 Introduction to the Course (April 11th)

No required reading.

Week 2 Gender Theories: A Brief Overview (April 18th)

Required Reading:

1. Moore, Henrietta. 1994 ‘Understanding Sex and Gender’ in Ingold, T (eds.) Companion Encyclopaedia of Anthropology. London, New York: Routledge

Discussion Question Due

Week 3 Intersections: Japanese Feminism(s) and Gender Theories (April 25th)

Required Reading:

1. Chiyo Saito, Interview and “What is Japanese Feminism?,” and Chizuko Ueno Interview and “Are Japanese Feminine” in Sandra Buckley (ed.), Broken Silence: Voices of Japanese Feminism, pp. 257-270, pp.272-301 (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1997).

Discussion Question Due

Week 4 Heteronormativity: Femininities at Home and Work (May 2nd)

Required Readings:

1. Nakano, Lynne. 2014. ‘Single Women in Marriage and Employment Markets in Japan’, in Kawano, Satsuki, Glenda S. Roberts and Susan O. Long. Capturing Contemporary Japan. Pp.163-182.

Discussion Question Due

Week 5 Heteronormativity: Masculinities (May 9th)

Required Reading:

1. Roberson, J.E. 2003. ‘Japanese Working Class Masculinities: Marginalized Complicity’, in Roberson, J.E and N. Suzuki (eds.), Men and Masculinities in Contemporary Japan: Dislocating the Salaryman Doxa. London and New York: Routledge.

Additional reading, if you have time:

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

Discussion Questions Due

Week 6 Power, Resistance and Gender (May 16th)

In-class viewing of: ‘Japan, A Story of Love and Hate’

No Required Readings or Discussion Question Due

Week 7 Reading Week and Essay Preparation (May 23rd)

No Required Reading or Discussion Question Due

Week 8 Gender and Bodies in Reproduction and Technology (May 30th)

Required Reading:

1. Martin, Emily. 1991. “The Egg and the Sperm: How Science Has Constructed a Romance Based on Stereotypical Male-Female Roles.” Signs 16(3): 485-501

2. Kato, M and M Sleeboom-Faulkner 2012 ‘Ova collection in Japan – making visible women’s experience in male spaces‘ in Gender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography

Discussion Questions Due

Proposed Essay Topic/Title due by email

Week 9 Gender Performativity (June 6th)

Required Readings:

1. Aiba, Keiko 2011 “Japanese Women Professional Wrestlers and Body Image” in Fujimura-Fanselow, Kumiko (ed). Transforming Japan: How Feminism and Diversity Are Making A Difference. The Feminist Press. (Chapter 19).

Discussion Question Due

* If you want to read about gender performativity in Judith Butler’s own words, check out Chapter 1 of her book Gender Trouble.

Week 10 Transgressing the Heteronormative (June 13th)

Required Readings:

1. Tamagawa, Masami. 2016. ‘Same Sex Marriage in Japan,’ Journal of GLBT Family Studies 12(2): 160-187.

2. Dale, SPF. 2012. ‘An Introduction to X-Jendā: Examining a New Gender Identity in Japan,’ Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific. Issue 31.

Discussion Questions Due.

Week 11 Essay Peer Reviews (June 20th)

No required reading or discussion questions. You will use this week to undertake peer reviews of your essay progress so far with a partner.

Week 12 Gender, Sex and the Body: Shinjuku Boys (June 27th)

In-class viewing of: ‘Shinjuku Boys’

No Required Reading or Discussion Question Due

Week 13 Gender Commodification and Women’s Bodies (July 4th)

Required Readings:

1. Aoyama, Kaoru. 2011. ‘Migrants and the Sex Industry’ In Fujimura-Fanselow, Kumiko (ed). Transforming Japan: How Feminism and Diversity Are Making A Difference. The Feminist Press. (Chapter 20).

2. Salazar Parreñas, Rhacel. 2010-2011. ‘The Indentured Mobility of Migrant Women: How Gendered Protectionist Laws Lead Filipina Hostesses to Forced Sexual Labor’. J. Workplace Rights. 15(3-4): 327-339.

Discussion Questions Due

Week 14 Gender Commodification and Men’s Bodies: Hosts at Work (July 11th)

Required Readings:

1. Takeyama, Akiko 2010 “Intimacy for Sale: Masculinity, Entrepreneurship, and Commodity Self in Japan’s Neoliberal Situation.” Japanese Studies 30(2): 231-246

Discussion Question Due

Week 15 Discussion, Wrap up and Assessment (July 18th)

No Required Readings or Discussion Question Due

Essay Due: 12.00 p.m. (midday) on July 18th 2017 (by email as a Word or PDF document)


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Nakajima Park, Sapporo