Postdoctoral Fellow Anna WOZNY Awarded the Harumi Befu Prize - Tokyo College
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Postdoctoral Fellow Anna WOZNY Awarded the Harumi Befu Prize

Tokyo College's Postdoctoral Fellow Anna WOZNY was awarded the Harumi Befu Prize. This prize is awarded for the best presentation by an emerging scholar (defined as any researcher who does not yet have a tenured position) at the annual AJJ (Anthropology of Japan in Japan) conference.

Dr. Wozny received the award for her presentation Marriage-hunting: intimacy at the nexus of state and market forces.”


This paper explores the entanglements of economic and political forces in the formation of intimate relationships by drawing on the case of Japanese “marriage-hunting” industry. Marriage-hunting (konkatsu), a term originally coined by sociologist Yamada Masahiro, encompasses myriad private and public sector services that facilitate heterosexual romantic relationships for a fee. Against the backdrop of rapid population decline and aging, marriage-hunting has additionally been defined as an arena with the potential to boost Japan’s marriage—and, by extension, childbirth—rates. Drawing on nine months of multi-site ethnographic fieldwork in Japan, including participant observation in marriage-hunting events and interviews with industry professionals as well as men and women who use these dating services, I demonstrate how the marriage-hunting market implicates individual desires in state reproduction. Specifically, I show how marriage-hunting professionals 1) mobilize population science to link individual experiences to state goals, and 2) rely on discourses of quantification and economization to portray marriage-hunting as a competitive marketplace. I then show how this conceptualisation of marriage-hunting as a market influences individual perceptions of status and desirability. Ultimately, I argue that the marriage-hunting market contributes to uneven social valuation of men and women depending on a mixture of ascribed and achieved characteristics.

Read more on the AJJ website.