Contemporary Japan is home to one of the world’s largest and most diversified markets for sex. Widely understood to be socially necessary, the sex industry operates and recruits openly, staffed by a diverse group of women who are attracted by its high pay and the promise of autonomy — but whose work remains stigmatized and dangerous. This talk reframes the labor of adult Japanese women working in Tokyo’s legal sex industry as female care work. Sex as care, I argue, reflects the simultaneous importance and marginality of female sex workers in Japan as well as the political-economic roles and possibilities that they imagine for themselves.
Gabriele Koch is a sociocultural anthropologist who studies care and its contestations in contemporary Japan. She is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Yale-NUS College and author of Healing Labor: Sex Work in the Gendered Economy (Stanford University Press, 2020). Her work has also appeared in American Ethnologist and Critical Asian Studies, and is forthcoming in the Journal of Legal Anthropology. Her current research focuses on the recent re-imagination of Japanese forests as agents of human well-being.
Wednesday, December 8, 2021
5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
McCune Conference Room & Live Streamed