Hitotsubashi University Japanese Studies in English Lecture Series 2017
Theme: Social Division 'Broken Bodies: Precarious Labour, Gender and Well-being' Speaker: Emma Cook, Hokkaido University


“In that job, I broke my body (*karada wo kowashita*)” explained
Yoshio-san. To ‘break the body’ was a term that was typically used to
indicate a physical breakdown or physical manifestations of illness and
exhaustion as the result of long-standing stress, difficult working
relationships, long hours of work, and lack of sleep. Such experiences were
generally narrated as a consequence of overwork but also as a result of
character and cultural imperatives to do their best (*ganbaru*) and endure (
*gaman*) their situation. For some, working part-time – for a limited time
– provided respite from the labour pressures experienced in full-time jobs.
Yet, part-time work was not a safe space in which bodies are not broken.
Indeed, the precariousness and low wages of irregular labour, exploitative
company practices, and a culture of *gaman* and *ganbaru*, can push workers
to the point of breakage. This paper explores what it means to have and
experience a ‘broken’ body, how precarious labour can precipitate
breakages, the affects on physical and emotional well-being, and the role
that gendered understandings of labour plays in experiences and narratives
of broken bodies.

Emma E. Cook is a social anthropologist with interests ranging from gender,
employment, family, and intimacy to food, health, risk, emotion and
well-being. She has published articles in Japanese Studies, Asian
Anthropology, Social Science Japan Journal and Asian Journal of Social
Science, and in 2016 published a monograph titled: Reconstructing Adult
Masculinities: Part-time Work in Contemporary Japan, London: Routledge. Her
current research, funded by a JSPS Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (C)
is titled: ‘When Food is Risky: Food Allergies in Japan and the UK’ and it
cross-culturally explores the social, embodied and affective experiences of
food allergies in Japan and the UK.

Date: June 1, 2017 (Thursday)
Time: 13:15-14:45
Venue: Mercury Hall, Mercury Tower, East campus, Hitotsubashi University

Language: English (no translation)

Attendance is free, and all are welcome to attend. No registration

For venue map, see

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