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Reluctant Intimacies: Japanese Eldercare in Indonesian Hands

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Reluctant Intimacies

Japanese Eldercare in Indonesian Hands

Beata Świtek

242 pages, 2 maps, 10 figures, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-269-2 $90.00/£64.00 Hb Published (September 2016)

eISBN 978-1-78533-270-8 eBook

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“Specialized readers will benefit from ´Switek’s ethnographic insights into cross-cultural body work and national discourses on culture, religion, and race… [It] is a welcome addition to Japanese studies and to anthropological debates about migration, care work, and nation.” • Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (JRAI)

“This study is based on in-depth research involving a good analysis of the articulation of national identities, sense of belonging and local labour markets with the social and bodily intimacies related to care for the elderly in Japanese institutions… It is an essential contribution to the understanding of the cultural, personal and social relations in care work.” • Ratna Saptari, Leiden University

“Świtek’s study is a significant contribution to studies of migration in relation to national imaginations, as well as to the analysis of carework in a changing global context. The book provides both rich ethnographic detail and insightful generalizations and is a compelling analysis of how cultural and racial ideologies find expression in the mundane interactions of everyday life. The author’s linguistic fluency and reflections on her positionality also enhance the study immensely. This book is a real gem.” • David L. McConnell, The College of Wooster


Based on seventeen months of ethnographic research among Indonesian eldercare workers in Japan and Indonesia, this book is the first ethnography to research Indonesian care workers’ relationships with the cared-for elderly, their Japanese colleagues, and their employers. Through the notion of intimacy, the book brings together sociological and anthropological scholarship on the body, migration, demographic change, and eldercare in a vivid account of societal transformation. Placed against the background of mass media representations, the Indonesian workers’ experiences serve as a basis for discussion of the role of bodily experience in shaping the image of a national “other” in Japan.

Beata Świtek, PhD, University College London, is a Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle, Germany.

Subject: Medical Anthropology
Area: Asia


List of Illustrations
Note on Language
List of Abbreviations

Map 1. Distribution of Indonesian caregiver candidates who arrived in Japan in 2008
Map 2. Distribution of Indonesian caregiver and nurse candidates who arrived in Japan in 2008


Chapter 1. Imagining Life and Work in Japan
Chapter 2. Working Intimacies
Chapter 3. Intimate Management
Chapter 4. National Predicaments

Conclusion: Reluctant Intimacies


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