Rethinking Labor: Work and Livelihood in Japan

Conference/Symposium | April 13 | 2-5:30 p.m. | Stephens Hall, Townsend Center, Room 220

 Center for Japanese Studies (CJS)

Please join us on April 13th and 14th for the UC Berkeley Center for Japanese Studies Fifth Annual Graduate Student Conference: Rethinking Labor: Work and Livelihood in Japan. Labor has and continues to be an important analytic in Japanese Studies as it illuminates diverse phenomena such as macro-economic change, state-society relations, and industrial development. Yet, drawing upon recent approaches in anthropology, sociology, and material culture, this conference seeks to invoke the concepts of work and livelihood, which can emphasize subjectivity, sociality and the material conditions to sustaining life in ways that complement and complicate previous studies focusing on traditional concepts of labor. With the goal of reframing what constitutes “labor,” graduate student panels will invoke “work” and “livelihood” as a means of addressing such categories as domestic structures, underemployment, immaterial production, transnational labor, among other topics.


[Friday, April 13]

02:00-02:10 Opening Remarks

02:10-03:40 PANEL 1 | Political Messaging of Labor
Discussant: Steve Vogel, UC Berkeley
Moderator: Benjamin Bartlett, UC Berkeley
Frank Mondelli, Stanford University | Quotidian Labor: Narrative Political Framing in Japanese Politics and Twitter
Shelby Oxenford, UC Berkeley | The Labor of Advertising and the Work of Memory post-3.11
Jun Hee Lee, University of Chicago | In Chorus with Japanese Laborers: Celebrating the Miike Strike and the Laborer-Composer Ideal in the Utagoe Movement

04:00-05:30 Keynote Lecture: “Matter of Death in Solitary Times” by Prof. Anne Allison, Duke University
With a high aging/low birthrate population and the rate of marriage and even coupling on the decline in Japan, the primary social unit is moving from the family to the individual. As more and more Japanese live alone, they also face the prospect of death without those who once assumed the responsibility of caring for the dead. Seeing this as a limit case for sociality, the talk engages new practices in Japan that cater to mortuary self-care by the to-be-deceased themselves. When grievability itself becomes a matter assigned the individual for a future when already dead, what precisely happens to the form of the social?

[Saturday, April 14]

10:00-11:30 PANEL 2 | Dysfunctions of Labor
Discussant: Anne Allison, Duke University
Moderator: Justus Watt, UC Berkeley
Ramsey Ismail, UC San Diego | Not Working, Working from Home: The Work of Hikikomori
Felix Jawinski, Leipzig University | Continuities and Struggles of Nuclear Laborers in Japan
Gao Ming, National University of Singapore | Chinese Migrant Workers, Prostitution, and Opium in Japanese Manchukuo

11:45-01:15 PANEL 3 | Representational Work and the Mediation of Labor
Discussant: Daniel O'Neill, UC Berkeley
Moderator: Shoufu Yin, UC Berkeley
Justus Watt, UC Berkeley | From Livelihood to Labor: Ie no Hikari and Economic Rationalization in Rural Japan, 1925-1935
Hannah Airriess, UC Berkeley | Staging the Bright Life: White-Collar Cinema in Japan's Era of High Economic Growth
Drew Korschun, University of Colorado | Reading Nakajima Atsushi and Robert Louis Stevenson Through the Lens of Colonial Economy in the Pacific Islands

02:00-03:30 PANEL 4 | Labor's Production Beyond the Material
Discussant: Jonathan Zwicker, UC Berkeley
Moderator: Joel Thielen, UC Berkeley
Thomas Gimbel, University of Chicago | Philosophy, Sweat, and Flowers: Thought and Labor at Sengan-en
Xiaoyi Yang, Bard Graduate Center | Appropriating Zhangzhou Blue-and-White Ceramics in Japan
Thiam Huat Kam, Rutgers University | The Immaterial Labor of Materialization: Fans’ Dōjin Activity in Contemporary Japan

03:50-05:00 ROUNDTABLE: Labor in Medieval & Early Modern Japan
Lead Discussant: Brendan Morley, UC Berkeley
Moderator: Hannah Airriess, UC Berkeley
Kaitlin Forgash, UC Berkeley
Joel Thielen, UC Berkeley
Shoufu Yin, UC Berkeley

05:00-05:10 Closing Remarks, 510-642-3415