Soh 2008 Violence

Title Information

Author: C(hunghee) Sarah Soh

Title: The Comfort Women

Subtitle: Sexual Violence and Postcolonial Memory in Korea and Japan

Place: Chicago and London

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Year: 2008

Pages: xxviii + 352pp.

Series: Worlds of Desire: The Chicago Series on Sexuality, Gender, and Culture

ISBN-10: 0226767760 (cloth) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat | ISBN-10: 0226767779 (paper) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat

ISBN-13: 9780226767765 (cloth) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat | ISBN-13: 9780226767772 (paper) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: 20th Century | Japanese History, Korean History | Types: "Comfort Women", Wartime Rape / Asia-Pacific War

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Additional Information

Author: Chunghee Sarah Soh, Department of Anthropology, San Francisco State University


  List of Plates (p. ix)
  List of Figures and Tables (p. x)
  List of Maps (p. x)
  Prologue: An Anthropological Analysis (p. xi)
  Acknowledgments (p. xix)
  Note to the Reader (p. xxvii)
  Introduction | Gender, Class, Sexuality, and Labor under Japanese Colonialism and Imperialist War (p. 1)
  Part 1 | Gender and Structrual Violence (p. 27)
    Chapter 1. From Multiple Symbolic Representations to the Paradigmatic Story (p. 29)
    Chapter 2. Korean Survivors' Testimonial Narratives (p. 79)
    Chapter 3. Japan's Military Comfort System as History (p. 107)
  Part 2 | Public Sex and Women's Labor (p. 143)
    Chapter 4. Postwar/Postcolonial Memories of the Comfort Women (p. 145)
    Chapter 5. Private Memories of Public Sex (p. 175)
    Chapter 6. Public Sex and the State (p. 197)
  Epilogue | Truth, Justice, Reconciliation (p. 227)
  Appendix: Doing "Expatriate Anthropology" (p. 241)
  Notes (p. 251)
  Bibliography (p. 293)
  Index (p. 323)


»In an era marked by atrocities perpetrated on a grand scale, the tragedy of the so-called comfort women--mostly Korean women forced into prostitution by the Japanese army--endures as one of the darkest events of World War II. These women have usually been labeled victims of a war crime, a simplistic view that makes it easy to pin blame on the policies of imperial Japan and therefore easier to consign the episode to a war-torn past. In this revelatory study, C. Sarah Soh provocatively disputes this master narrative.
Soh reveals that the forces of Japanese colonialism and Korean patriarchy together shaped the fate of Korean comfort women--a double bind made strikingly apparent in the cases of women cast into sexual slavery after fleeing abuse at home. Other victims were press-ganged into prostitution, sometimes with the help of Korean procurers. Drawing on historical research and interviews with survivors, Soh tells the stories of these women from girlhood through their subjugation and beyond to their efforts to overcome the traumas of their past. Finally, Soh examines the array of factors--from South Korean nationalist politics to the aims of the international women's human rights movement--that have contributed to the incomplete view of the tragedy that still dominates today.« (Source: University of Chicago Press)


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Cheng, Sealing. The Journal of Asian Studies 68(4) (November 2009): 1321-1323. – Full Text: Cambridge Journals Online (Restricted Access), JSTOR (Restricted Access)

Chung, Haeng-Ja. American Anthropologist 112(2) (June 2010): 337-338. – Full Text: Wiley Online Library (Restricted Access)

Helverson, Gwyn. Journal and Proceedings of Gender Awareness in Language Eduation 7 (December 2014): 89-92 – Full Text: Gender Awareness in Language Education (Free Access)

Kingston, Jeff. The Japan Times (May 10, 2009. – Full Text: The Japan Times (Free Access)

Koikari, Mire. Korean Studies 34 (2010): 147-149. – Full Text: JSTOR (Restricted Access)

Totani, Yuma. The American Historical Review 116(3) (June 2011): 783-784 – Full Text: Oxford Journals (Restricted Access)

Wikipedia: Wartime sexual violence: Comfort women, Japanese war crimes, Pacific War

Added: April 1, 2008 – Last updated: January 24, 2015