Emma Cook


United Kingdom



Research Keywords

Japanese youth employment, gender, health and wellbeing, food and social life


BSc: Archaeology, University of Liverpool
MSc: Social Anthropology, University of Edinburgh
PhD: Social Anthropology, School of Oriental and African Studies: University of London


As a social anthropologist I am interested in how people live, how they adapt to and change their social worlds. My interest in the culture and society of Japan began through an interest in the lives of indigenous peoples. During my Masters degree this led me to look at the relationship between Ainu and Japanese and the various ways in which their ethnic identities were constructed. After moving to Japan to teach as an Assistant Language Teacher on the JET program I became more interested in the issues that youth were experiencing. Consequently, my PhD and postdoctoral research focused on youth employment, specifically exploring the lives of male freeters (part-time workers). Topics I have covered include masculinities, gender, family and workplace relations, and the impact of work on health. My new project looks at experiences of food allergies in Japan and their social and institutional implications. My teaching philosophy focuses on facilitating active learning and critical thinking. My classes therefore include both lectures and lots of discussion. I look forward to meeting you all in the coming years.

Classes Taught on MJSP

Introduction to Japanese Studies III (Society), Japanese Society I & II, Multiculturality and Japan. You can watch a video of me giving a lecture during the Global Issues Forum for Tomorrow (GIFT) event as part of Sustainability Weeks 2013.

Selected Publications


  • (2016) Reconstructing Adult Masculinities: Part-time Work in Contemporary Japan, London: Routledge, 2016.

Edited Books

  • In press (2018) Intimate Japan: Ethnographies of Closeness and Conflict. (co-edited with Allison Alexy). Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, in press 2018.

Articles (reviewed)

  • (2018) ‘Human-Microbe Entanglements: Food Allergies in Japan and the UK’ in More-than-Human Worlds: A NatureCulture Blog Series (Peer-reviewed). Published July 4th 2018 at: https://blognatureculture.wordpress.com/2018/07/

  • (2017) ‘Risk and Affective Co-ordination: Food Allergy Experiences in the UK‘ Japanese Review of Cultural Anthropology (JRCA). Vol 18, Issue 1, pp. 129-142

  • (2017) ‘Aspirational Labour, Performativity and Masculinities in the Making‘ Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific. Issue 41

  • (2016) ‘(Dis)Connections & Silence: Experiences of Family and Part-time Work in Japan‘ Japanese Studies Vol 36, Issue 2, pp. 155-172

  • (2016) ‘Adulthood as Action: Changing Meanings of Adulthood for Male Part-Time Workers in Contemporary Japan.‘ Asian Journal of Social Science Vol. 44, Issue 3, pp. 317-337

  • 2014. ‘Intimate Expectations and Practices: Freeter Relationships and Marriage in Contemporary Japan’ Asian Anthropology. Vol. 13, Issue 1, pp. 36-51

  • (2013) ‘Expectations of Failure: Maturity and Masculinity for Freeters in Contemporary Japan’, Social Science Japan Journal 16 (1): 29-43

  • (2010) ‘Jyūjitsu shita ikikata wo suru tame ni furiitaa ga motomeru mono’ in Kamizono Dai San Gō Heisei 22 Nen 5 Gatsu, Meiji Jingū Kokusai Shintō Bunka Kenkyūjō. (“Freeters’ Search for a Fulfilling Lifestyle”, translated by Ito Moriyasu in Kamizono, the Journal of the Meiji Jingu Research Institute, No 3)

Book Chapters

  • In press (2018). ‘Irregular Employment, Power and Intimacy in Japan’, in Alexy, A and E.E. Cook (eds.) Intimate Japan: Ethnographies of Closeness and Conflict. University of Hawai’i Press

  • In press (2018). ‘Reflections on Fieldwork: Exploring Intimacy’ in Intimate Japan: Ethnographies of Closeness and Conflict, edited by Allison Alexy and Emma E. Cook, Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.

  • In press (2018). ‘Exploring Masculinities and Labour through Intimacy’ in Intimate Japan: Ethnographies of Closeness and Conflict, edited by Allison Alexy and Emma E. Cook, Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.

  • (2012) ‘Still a Child? Liminality and the Construction of Youthful Masculinities in Japan’ in Brison, K. and S. Dewey (eds.). Super Girls, Gangstas, Freeters, and Xenomaniacs: Gender and Modernity in Youth Cultures. Syracuse University Press