Reconfiguring sex, body and desire in Japanese modernity

Pandey, Rajyashree. 2009. Reconfiguring sex, body and desire in Japanese modernity. Postcolonial Studies, 12(3), pp. 289-301. ISSN 1368-8790 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This paper starts from the observation that modern Japanese sexuality is often bewildering to western observers. In attempting to explain why this is so, this paper provides a highly selective genealogy of Japanese sexuality, focusing in particular on the discursive formulations of desire and eroticism in pre-modern Japan. By considering some literary texts of the early Meiji period, the paper highlights how Japanese sexuality, which formed part of the larger story of Japan's transition to modernity, emerged through a profound reorientation of the domain of pleasure as it had been thought and lived in the pre-modern period. At the same time, the paper argues that what emerged was not a homogeneous object called 'sexuality' with the same features that obtained in the west, and that it was through discursive reformulations and a creative engagement with texts and practices from its own past that a particular form of Japanese sexuality came into being. This may account for the fact that globalization notwithstanding, the codes that govern Japanese libidinous play today, while not uniquely Japanese, are nonetheless far removed from those that we are familiar with in the west.

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Politics > Centre for Postcolonial Studies



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Date Deposited:

10 Nov 2010 09:42

Last Modified:

28 Nov 2017 16:20

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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