Traffic in Asian Women

Traffic in Asian Women

Next Wave: New Directions in Women's Studies

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Book Pages: 352 Illustrations: 19 illustrations Published: September 2020

American Studies, Asian Studies, Theory and Philosophy > Feminist Theory

In Traffic in Asian Women Laura Hyun Yi Kang demonstrates that the figure of "Asian women" functions as an analytic with which to understand the emergence, decline, and permutation of U.S. power/knowledge at the nexus of capitalism, state power, global governance, and knowledge production throughout the twentieth century. Kang analyzes the establishment, suppression, forgetting, and illegibility of the Japanese military "comfort system" (1932–1945) within that broader geohistorical arc. Although many have upheld the "comfort women" case as exemplary of both the past violation and the contemporary empowerment of Asian women, Kang argues that it has profoundly destabilized the imaginary unity and conceptual demarcation of the category. Kang traces how "Asian women" have been alternately distinguished and effaced as subjects of the traffic in women, sexual slavery, and violence against women. She also explores how specific modes of redress and justice were determined by several overlapping geopolitical and economic changes ranging from U.S.-guided movements of capital across Asia and the end of the Cold War to the emergence of new media technologies that facilitated the global circulation of "comfort women" stories.


“Deeply thought-provoking and powerfully written, Traffic in Asian Women is an eminently illuminating examination of the contradictory figuration of ‘Asian Women.’ Laura Hyun Yi Kang offers a singular model of critically erudite, deeply engaged scholarship.” — Lisa Yoneyama, author of Cold War Ruins: Transpacific Critique of American Justice and Japanese War Crimes

Traffic in Asian Women is a meticulously researched, thoroughly compelling, and persistently incisive study. It is a book full of brilliance, one that shows us how to conduct outward facing, politically engaged research in ways that enact intersectional thinking, not only in research but as a way of relating to the world.” — Kandice Chuh, author of The Difference Aesthetics Makes: On the Humanities “After Man”

“This is a mode of feminist writing that rejects faith in the twinned powers of exposure and expertise…. Kang’s deft history skips a stone across regimes of visibility and governance, alighting on their connective systems instead of laying claim to the subjects inside.” — Zoë Hu, Baffler


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Laura Hyun Yi Kang is a Professor in the Department of Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of California, Irvine and author of Compositional Subjects: Enfiguring Asian/American Women, also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix
Introduction. Traffic in Asian Women  1
1. Asian Women as Method?  19
2. Traffic in Women  51
3. Sexual Slavery  83
4. Violence against Women  117
5. Truth Disclosure  153
6. Just Compensation  189
7. Enduring Memorials  221
Notes  261
Bibliography  311
Index  331
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0966-5 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0880-4