Research Interests: Political economy; historical anthropology; legal anthropology; law and human rights; urban space; post-colonial & post-imperial relations; history and memory; transnational East Asia (China and Japan)
Yukiko Koga is assistant professor of anthropology at Hunter College, The City University of New York. Her current research explores the generational transfer of unaccounted-for pasts stemming from Japanese imperialism in China. Professor Koga inquires what it means for both Chinese and Japanese to come to terms with the Japanese imperialism seventy years after Japan’s original violence and injustice in China ended with the Japanese defeat and the disappearance of its empire in 1945, and how the introduction of the market economy in China has created a new dynamic concerning the contested yet under-explored past for both Chinese and Japanese. Her first book project takes place within a burgeoning economic sphere in Northeast China, while her second and third projects take place within a transnational legal sphere.
Professor Koga’s first book, Inheritance of Loss: China, Japan, and the Political Economy of Redemption After Empire (University of Chicago Press, 2016), explores how the current generation of ordinary Chinese and Japanese, two to three generations removed from the direct experience of Japanese imperialism, encounter each other and experience and navigate colonial inheritances in the urban everyday of Northeast China. Situated at the height of China’s socio-economic transformation in the 1990s and 2000s, this ethnography shows how the economic realm has become a key site for the generational transfer of difficult pasts. While the concepts of memory and trauma are often used to show the lasting effects of original violence, Professor Koga suggests that these concepts may have limited our political imagination about what is at stake for second and third generations in East Asia in coming to terms with the distant, yet still alive, past. This book uses the concept of “colonial inheritance” to make visible contemporary generational responses to the losses incurred through colonial modernity, as set in motion through China’s transition to a market-oriented society. My ethnography shows how beneath the rationalized rhetoric of economic prosperity and the pursuit of “modern life” lurks the tenacious question of reckoning with the past through quotidian encounters in the workplace, on the streets, and in residential complexes.
Professor Koga received her PhD in anthropology from Columbia University.
Yukiko Koga, Inheritance of Loss: China, Japan, and the Political Economy of Redemption After Empire (University of Chicago Press, 2016).