Based on Robert’s book Sanitized Sex, the talk will discuss the various attempts to sanitize sexuality through the regulation of prostitution, venereal disease and intimacy in occupied Japan after World War II. It features sexuality as key element in issues of security, health and morale during the occupation period. In doing so it underscores how the sanitization of sex was a male-dominated struggle for control and authority in the clash of two competing patriarchal, imperial powers: Japan and the United States. That said, the talk is more than a study of the postwar sexual encounters. An analysis of sex, its regulation and negotiation between occupiers and occupied sheds new light on the everyday experiences and asymmetries of power in occupied Japan, the legacies of the Japanese Empire, and the particularities of postwar U.S. imperialism in the postcolonial formation of the Asia-Pacific region.
Robert Kramm holds a doctoral degree in history from ETH Zurich and is currently a post-doctoral fellow in the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at the University of Hong Kong. His field is global history of the 19th and 20th-centuries with a combined focus on modern East Asia/Japan, cultural history, and the history of everyday life. His first book, Sanitized Sex: Regulating Prostitution, Venereal Disease, and Intimacy during the Occupation of Japan, 1945-1952, was published 2017 with University of California Press, and he co-edited the volume Global Anti-Vice Activism: Fighting Drinks, Drugs, and ‘Immorality’ (Cambridge University Press, 2016). Starting in January 2020, Robert Kramm is appointed Freigeist-Fellow of the Volkswagen-Foundation and, affiliated with the Department of History at LMU Munich, he will lead a research group on Radical Utopian Communities: Global Histories from the Margins, 1900-1950.
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