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Precarious Japan


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Precarious Japan reflects on how the Japanese are experiencing insecurity in the contemporary era of nagging recession, irregular labor, nuclear contamination, and a shrinking overall population with more and more elderly.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
1. Pain of Life 1
2. From Lifelong to Liquid Japan 21
3. Ordinary Refugeeism: Poverty, Precarity, Youth 43
4. Home and Hope 77
5. The Social Body-In Life and Death 122
6. Cultivating Fields From the Edges 166
7. In the Mud 180
Notes 207
References 219
Index 231

About the Author

Anne Allison is Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University. She is the author of Millennial Monsters: Japanese Toys and the Global Imagination; Permitted and Prohibited Desires: Mothers, Comics, and Censorship in Japan; and Nightwork: Sexuality, Pleasure, and Corporate Masculinity in a Tokyo Hostess Club and a coeditor of the journal Cultural Anthropology.


"Precarious Japan is a harrowing read. Mummified corpses, the homeless housed in stacks of coffin-sized boxes, rivers of radioactive mud, and other horrific scenes capture the contraction of existence in contemporary Japan as the history of the sarariman (salaryman) gives way to a stagnant neoliberal future. While Anne Allison seeks to tell the story of a nation for whom hope looks backwards, readers will wonder whether they are also seeing the blueprint for a global condition emerging at the edge of the rising sun." - Elizabeth A. Povinelli, author of Economies of Abandonment: Social Belonging and Endurance in Late Liberalism "Precarious Japan is a model of new modes of conceptualizing sociocultural theory. Here the theory is sober, mature, aspirational, hopeful, gracious. It pushes up against the limits of thinking categorically, of thinking that lived phenomena simply, magically, derive their force from the categorical - from identities, borders, inclusions and exclusions, ideals writ large. It will be important to scholars trying to get a better handle on what is going on in the historical present." - Kathleen Stewart, author of Ordinary Affects "Precarious Japan is a forward-thinking commentary on the current state of Japan, detailing a progressive history from the economic collapse in 1991 to how the country functions today in a modern, post-earthquake society... For those wondering just how precarious Japan's future really is, this book is a good place to start." - Jordan Sievers, Japan Times

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