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Wombs of Empire: The Gendered and Racial Politics of Motherhood


Sujin Lee (Pacific and Asian Studies, University of Victoria)

The presentation situates Japan's wartime pronatalist policy, encapsulated by the slogan “give birth and multiply” (umeyo fuyaseyo), within the broader context of population discourse.

Focusing on the wartime state’s increasing attention to the maternal body, Lee will discuss the gendered and racialized effects of biopolitical rationalities and the instrumentality of motherhood.

About the speaker:

Sujin Lee is Assistant Professor of Modern Japanese History at the University of Victoria. Lee completed her PhD in History from Cornell University in 2017 and served as a postdoctoral fellow at the UCLA Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies in 2017–18.

She is an author of articles on the birth control movement in Interwar Japan and the book: Wombs of Empire: Population Discourses and Biopolitics in Modern Japan (Stanford University Press, 2023).

Her research interests encompass the history of the Japanese colonial empire, biopolitical governance of bodies and its gender impacts, and historical narratives of women's reproductive experiences.