Author Archives: Tomoki Birkett

Tomoki Birkett is a Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology at Columbia University. Their scholarly interests include decolonial feminist analyses of Japanese empire, queer geography, reproductive labor, critical race theory, and anti-imperialism.
Image of a street with white arrows painted on it.

Queered Ruptures: The Politics of Anti-irradiation Maternalism in the TEPCO Nuclear Disaster, Kokutai, and Hentai

It is August 2018 and Ishikawa Chiharu and I are sitting down for tea in an herbalist cafe in Fukushima prefecture. We are reflecting on a recent workshop I had organized with my friend N, a professionally trained dancer, for youth in the anti-irradiation space Chiharu organizes. Commenting on how N began her workshop with a short performance, Chiharu says, Thinking normally, that kind of self-expression is something to be embarrassed of Even if it’s small, I think it would be nice to have a place that tells it’s okay for them not to kill a part of themselves. That’s why when very little was emerging out of Fukushima prefecture, the people who tried to take action were really a little hentai… This essay reflects on the significance of Chiharu’s description of herself and other women active in anti-irradiation efforts as hentai. It reflects on the sense that Japanese mothers who take issue with nuclear reconstruction in late capitalist Japan are perverse and aberrant. (read more...)