Nana Okura Gagné – Reworking Japan

Describe your book

Reworking Japan examines how the past several decades of neoliberal economic restructuring and reforms have challenged Japan’s corporate ideologies, gendered relations, and individual employees. My book analyzes Japan’s fraught and problematic transition from the postwar ideology of “companyism” to the emergent ideology of neoliberalism along with large-scale economic restructuring, and how Japanese companies and employees have resisted and actively responded to such changes. By juxtaposing Japan’s economic transformation with an ethnography of work and leisure and individual life stories, I explore the human dimension of the neoliberal reforms that have impacted the nation’s corporate governance, socioeconomic class, workers’ subjectivities, and family relations. Reworking Japan will shake up preconceived ideas about Japanese men as well as the social effects of neoliberalism.

Why did you decide to publish it with a university press?

Cornell University Press has published high-quality academic works, especially in the fields of anthropology and labor studies. I also hope that my book will contribute to the scholarly conversations in these fields.

Do you enjoy the writing process?

I very much enjoy writing ethnography. Writing can be both monotonous and quite tedious, but when a work starts to take shape it becomes a rewarding process. 

What is the best piece of advice anyone has ever given to you?

The best piece of advice I have received regarding the writing process is: Write every day, even just one sentence, and keep it up continuously. While it is not always possible to find a chunk of time and actualize this, this message is always in my mind.

Who inspires you?

The pathbreaking scholars who have come before me in the fields of anthropology and Japanese studies.

Nana Okura Gagné is Associate Professor at The Chinese University of Hong Kong and the author of Reworking Japan (2021) published by Cornell University Press