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World History; East Asian history with focus on Japan.
Researcher output profile for Dr Bill Mihalopoulos
Bill Mihalopoulos grew up in rural South Australia. He has always been curious about the histories and cultures of other people. By chance rather than design, his curiosity in intercultural encounters led him to study and teach in four different continents.
Mihalopoulos' manuscript Sex in Japan's Globalization, 1870-1930, is a historical study of the gendered and class impact of Japan's first encounter with globalisation that began in the 1860s. Mihalopoulos takes the position that the Japanese women who worked in overseas brothels must be first understood as peasants liberated from the land by Meiji land and tax policies, who became "free labour"Ã‚Â searching for work in the colonial cities of Asia. Prostitution was one form of labour in the integration of Japanese women into the global work force. However, sex work as "labour"Ã‚Â clashed with the simultaneous modernization goals of the Meiji state and social reformers who sought to embed cultural standards of ideal womanhood throughout Japanese society and to project the image of Japanese modernity internationally.
The book analyses the structural contradictions inherent in the efforts of Meiji Japan to incorporate Japan into a global economy. Toward this end, poor farmers were offered to the global market in the form of government-sponsored migration to work the plantations of Hawaii and Australia as "free labourers" from the mid-1880s. Simultaneously, the government implemented laws to prevent Japanese women going abroad as itinerate vagrants and prostitutes. This double move was driven by two contradictory goals. One aim was the quest for "freedom" crystallized around government efforts to promote Japanese trade and industry in a global economy and to secure the "free" movement of Japanese labourers to places of work abroad in the face of race restrictions placed on coloured labourers in North America, colonial Australia and the Dutch East Indies to name a few locations. The other aim was "restrictions", which coalesced around administrative endeavours to demarcate acceptable and unacceptable forms of work that Japanese women could pursue abroad: It was acceptable to work as a cook or domestic servant, but not as a sex worker.
Sex in Japan's Globalization deals directly with the Meiji state's development policies and the attitudes of key intellectuals and social welfare organizations towards women, workers, prostitution and what it meant to be a virtuous Imperial subject. Japan's industrialization required a new form of politics that aimed to train and transform Japanese peasants into good workers, not only in the obvious sense of acquiring new production skills and attitudes, but also targeting inter-family relationships in order to replace existing customs with conduct that supported nation building. The duties of parents and children were to be realigned so as to inculcate the habits of industry necessary for a disciplined industrial labour force. A major argument of the book is that the reform agendas of government officials, educators and Christian philanthropists, based on maintaining premarital chastity, strict monogamy, and the obligation to work for the good of the nation, came at the expense of lower-class women whose sexuality did not conform to their sensibilities.
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