Responsable: Martin Nogueira Ramos

École française d'Extrême-Orient
Kitashirakawa bettô-chô 29, Sakyô-ku
606-8276 Kyoto
Tel: +81 75 701 0882
Fax: +81 75 701 0883
〒606-8276 京都市左京区北白川別当町29

Kyoto Lectures 2015-12-08
Title: The Robotic Housekeeper: Rethinking
Japanese Domesticity through the Image of Kaseifu

Speaker: Miri Nakamura
Tuesday, December 8th, 18:00h
This lecture will be held at the Institute for Research in Humanities (IRH), Kyoto University (seminar room 1, 1st floor)
The figure of the housekeeper has recently became extremely visible in Japan
through TV series such as Kaseifu no Mita (The housekeeper Mita, 2011)
and its 1980s inspiration, Kaseifu wa mita (The housekeeper saw,
1983-2008). These shows cast the part-timer, the housekeeper, as the center of
the Japanese household, who replaces the mother and takes care of the entire
family in her stead.This talk traces the image of the housekeeper from the immediate
postwar through these contemporary works in order to rethink Japanese domesticity.
Many scholarships have focused on the importance of the biological mother in
the modern family, but from the Meiji era through the war, the Japanese
family was comprised of the nuclear family plus at least one live-in maid (jochû),
and the system shifted to the housekeeper once maids began to disappear. Are
these women merely replacements of the mother’s tasks, or are they engaged in
other work as well? By examining these visual representations of the kaseifu,
the talk will uncover the affective labor of the housekeepers to show how their
labor is tied to the concept of “the zany,” a trait of excessive work highly
valued in late capitalism. 
Miri Nakamura is Associate Professor of Japanese
Literature in the College of East Asian Studies at Wesleyan University.
Her first book, Monstrous Bodies: The Rise of the Uncanny in Modern
, was just published from Harvard University East Asia Center Press in
July. In it, she traced the image of “modern monsters”—doppelgangers, twins, automata—and argued that these imaginary bodies arose as new scientific
discourses like eugenics entered Japan. She is currently working on her
second book, Maid Manifesto, which looks at the figures of the maid (jochû)
in the modern era and the housekeeper (kaseifu) in the postwar era.
This book aims to reveal the functions of affective labor, emotional labor
that contrasts to physical, material labor. Nakamura has also co-organized
numerous film festivals, literary festivals, and a conference called
“Asian Horror Cinema and Beyond.” One of her current side projects is an
anthology of essays developed from this conference.
For detailed directions: 
École Francaise
d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO) 
Italian School of East Asian Studies (ISEAS)