Ayaka Yoshimizu: Doing Ethnography in the Wake of the Displacement of Transnational Sex Workers in Yokohama: Sensuous Remembering


3:30–5:00 pm (JST), Wednesday, July 17, 2024
Room 5030, Kanagawa University—Minatomirai Campus
Minatomirai 4-5-3, Nishi-ku, Yokohama

Ayaka Yoshimizu
Assistant Professor of Teaching, Department of Asian Studies, University of British Columbia

Zoom participation: Pre-registration is not required. Please login with the Zoom Meeting ID: 923 4787 3527 and Passcode: KUMMC

In-person participation: Kanagawa University students & staff do not need to pre-register. All others are requested to preregister online at least a day in advance (https://forms.gle/frZYTkM9zr5sXgXT6). In addition, on the day of the talk non-KU students and staff should register as a Guest at the Information counter near the entrance before coming up to room 5030 the 5th floor.

This presentation reflects on the politics, poetics, and ethics of remembering the lives of migrant sex workers in a diasporic city of Yokohama, Japan. Drawing on her performative sensory ethnography, Yoshimizu will focus on the transnational space of mizushobai(water trade) in Yokohama’s historically marginalized neighbourhoods along the Ōoka River, where sexual services were performed by racialized migrant women. Since 2005 the city has sought to rebrand one of these neighbourhoods, Koganecho, evicting transnational migrant sex workers who had been integral to postindustrial development and erasing their past presence. Yoshimizu examines Yokohama’s dominant memoryscapes in the aftermath of displacement, examining the built environment, official historical narratives, films, and photographic works that obscure racialized migrants’ participation in the city’s place-making. She then seeks to create an alternative memoryscape based on her own fieldwork experience of becoming entangled with the local social relations, unexpectedly coming to perform social roles legible in the field, and, ultimately, having her relationship with the city refashioned anew. Yoshimizu writes the alternative memoryscape through the imagery of water in ways that are informed by the local usage and imaginations—the ocean, flowing rivers, swamps, humidity, alcohol, the fluidity of relationships, and transient lives. This talk will end by introducing her current multi-sited research on transpacific memories of karayuki-san in Yokohama, Nagasaki, and Western Canada.

This talk is part of the International Japanese Studies Lecture Series organized by the International Japanese Studies Group in the Institute for Humanities Research at Kanagawa University.

James Welker
Department of Cross-Cultural Studies
Kanagawa University, Minatomirai Campus