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"Anne Allison's moving and perceptive account of precarious existence in contemporary Japan cuts through the sheen of a society’s self-image to reveal an everyday weighted down by scarcity and a temporality dedicated to the daily struggle to stay alive. Where there was supposed to be permanent abundance and the well-being of all, is now a ruined landscape, vacated by hope, a constituency compromising globalization's version of the 'wretched of the earth,' who have appeared in Japan and everywhere the new global order has established its austere regime of insecurity and desperation. Allison’s stunningly thoughtful elucidation of the growing numbers of the homeless, hungry and the socially withdrawn will take its place with all those ethnographies that have courageously sought to capture the precarity of broken lives within our midst to make us see what continues to defy our capacity to confront, which is the mirror of our collective future."—Harry Harootunian, coauthor of Japan After Japan: Social and Cultural Life from the Recessionary 1990s to the Present —
"Precarious Japan is a harrowing read. Mummified corpses, the homeless housed in stacks of coffin-sized boxes, rivers of radioactive mud, and other horrific scenes capture the contraction of existence in contemporary Japan as the history of the sarariman (salaryman) gives way to a stagnant neoliberal future. While Anne Allison seeks to tell the story of a nation for whom hope looks backwards, readers will wonder whether they are also seeing the blueprint for a global condition emerging at the edge of the rising sun."—Elizabeth A. Povinelli, author of Economies of Abandonment: Social Belonging and Endurance in Late Liberalism —
"Precarious Japan is a model of new modes of conceptualizing sociocultural theory. Here the theory is sober, mature, aspirational, hopeful, gracious. It pushes up against the limits of thinking categorically, of thinking that lived phenomena simply, magically, derive their force from the categorical—from identities, borders, inclusions and exclusions, ideals writ large. It will be important to scholars trying to get a better handle on what is going on in the historical present."—Kathleen Stewart, author of Ordinary Affects —
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Anne Allison is Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University. She is the author of Millennial Monsters: Japanese Toys and the Global Imagination; Permitted and Prohibited Desires: Mothers, Comics, and Censorship in Japan; and Nightwork: Sexuality, Pleasure, and Corporate Masculinity in a Tokyo Hostess Club and a coeditor of the journal Cultural Anthropology.