Tomomi Kinukawa

tkinukawa [at] berkeley [dot] edu
Independent Scholar
Appointment Dates:
(Aug 22, 2013 – May 16, 2014)
Research Project:
Health Disparities and Immigration Politics in Cold War Era Japan: The Case of Korean Diaspora Communities
This book project funded by the NEH Advanced Social Science Research on Japan (2013-2014) will be a pioneering social, cultural, and political history of health movements among Zainichi Koreans, an ethnic minority group in Japan. In it, I analyze biopolitics (the politics of health) as a gendered ethno-racial project, and explore the link between health disparities and immigration politics. Based on oral history interviews and original archival research, my book reconstructs the ways in which various groups of Zainichi Koreans, including medical professionals and their clients, medical students, community leaders, entrepreneurs, scholars, writers, and filmmakers, articulated their critique of US-Japanese neo-imperialism in East Asia by focusing on the issue of health. My book will be the first to highlight women’s participation in Zainichi movements. The Zainichi case indicates the limitations of demanding health within the conventional frame of nation and citizenship and helps us analyze how the state developed a gendered and racialized notion of citizenship as a tool to maintain health disparities and other forms of oppression. Speaking to recent concerns about elitism in transnational feminisms, my work explores how Zainichi women activists, who were often marginalized by hegemonic Japanese women’s movements in international meetings, sought transnational alliances with movements elsewhere, including socialist, communist, and third world left movements in Asia, and the black Civil Rights movement in the US.
I first developed my interest in critical analysis of the culture of science when I was an undergraduate science student at the University of Tokyo. I received a PhD in the history of science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I was Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Science in Society and the Department of History at Bryn Mawr College, and taught in the Department of History at the University of the Pacific.  My work contributes to the growing interdisciplinary field of gender, race, and science, with special attention to transnational movements of scientific, feminist and queer practices and ideas. I have engaged in an interdisciplinary crossing between critical race theory and science studies and explored the relationship between science and the notion of justice. Responding to grassroots, indigenous, feminist, and queer critiques of science as well as critical ethnic studies and disability studies, my work examines how modern natural sciences have been constructed as tools to shape and justify the racialized and heteronormative global order. My work also investigates what alternative science for justice would look like. In my previous work, including “Science and Whiteness as Property in the Dutch Atlantic World: Maria Sibylla Merian’s Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium (1705),” Journal of Women’s History 24.3 (2012): 91-116, I examined early-modern Dutch colonial botany as a set of gendered racial projects. Using archival materials in five European languages, I argued that private entrepreneur-naturalists like Merian participated in the capitalist exploitation of colonial natural resources and reinforced the racial ideology that the critical race theorist Cheryl I. Harris has called “whiteness as property.”