This study explores biopolitical dynamics evolving around care and precarity in Japan by exploring San’ya, a major yoseba (day labour market) in Tokyo. Based on extensive archival research and ethnographic fieldwork in San’ya between 2019 and 2021, this study pursues two aims. First, it conceptualises care as a contested, biopolitical terrain where different conceptions and sensibilities around autonomy, security, and in/dependence clash. Second, this study analyses the strategies of care developed by activists over the past three decades as a concrete example of care as an “ethics of relating to others” (McEwan & Goodman, 2010). The elderly rough sleepers are clearly different from what Negri (in Curcio, 2010) calls the “citizen”, the subjectivity “historically integrated in the biopolitical order of welfare”. If so, however, how does one care for the older labourers who have lived on their own and resisted being in any bounded relations for their entire lives? In order to effectively engage the historically produced “rebellious bodies that refuse to be beholden”, to borrow the words of an activist, has developed practical strategies which I refer to as “indifferent care”. This study demonstrates how yoseba activists’ practices of indifferent care (re)produce the yoseba as a space for older day labourers to maintain their “way of life” and resonates with how drifting underclass labourers in the Edo and Meiji periods created a loose network of care beyond intimacy.
Didi Kyounge Ae Han, Andong National University, South Korea
About the Presenter(s)
Dr Kyoung Ae Han is a University Postdoctoral Fellow or Instructor at Andong National University in South Korea
See this presentation on the full schedule – Sunday Schedule