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Offers critical insights into gender and social class in Japan from Japanese and Western scholars


Women and Class in Japanese History brings together the various perspectives and skills of an international and multidisciplinary group of specialists in the study of women and gender in Japanese society. In Japan, a solid body of research on women’s history has been building since the late 1970s, replacing a focus on male-dominated class-based social divisions of labor with attention to sexual divisions of labor. In the 1980s and 90s, Japanese scholars began to investigate exclusively female domains, women’s life cycles, and their symbolic constructs as legitimate subjects of historical inquiry. In North America in the 1980s, scholars of Japan and women’s studies began to reformulate questions around the issue of gender relations, seeking to understand how women’s and men’s experiences came to be mediated through cultural and symbolic forces embedded in society.The authors of the essays in Women and Class in Japanese History build on these conversations through integrative methods. They pay particular attention to the nature of class differences that have given shape and meaning to women’s experiences. They seek to identify actual processes of transformation and specific agents of change and to render full justice to historical context. Their conclusions will will attract people interested both in the history of Japan and the history of women.

Hitomi Tonomura is Associate Professor of History, University of Michigan. Anne Walthall is Professor of History, University of California, Irvine.Wakita Haruko is Professor of History in the School of Human Cultures, University

“Every contribution is solid . . . Having examined social fields particular to women, the contributors take a fresh perspective in revising the place of women in broad social, political, and economic contexts. The essays break important new ground both empirically and conceptually.”
—David Howell, in the Journal of Japanese Studies