Julie Valk

Julie valk

DPhil Student

St Cross College

Thesis: Survival or Success: The Changing Face of the Kimono Retail Industry in Contemporary Japan

Research: My doctoral research focuses on the kimono retail industry in Japan and the changes that this traditional industry has undergone as a result of economic and socio-cultural changes in contemporary Japan. The economic crisis of the 1990s affected all areas of economic life in Japan, but so far very little attention has been paid to how this has affected traditional industries, including the various craftspeople, wholesalers and retailers in the kimono industry. In addition, the role of the kimono in Japan has changed since the late 20th century, and it is no longer considered to be the preferred ceremonial wear for formal occasions such as weddings, funerals and graduations ceremonies. I conducted 12 months of fieldwork in Aichi Prefecture, central Japan, to investigate whether the stress placed on the industry since the 1990s will affect the survival of the kimono long-term. My research has highlighted that a small section of the industry is moving towards reinventing the kimono as a hobby, as fashionable wear part of a modern consumption lifestyle. My research hints that even in moments of crisis, there are opportunities for cultural heritage to assume a new role in modern society.

Research interests: Japan, East Asia, Southeast Asia, textiles, traditional industries, heritage, economic anthropology, socio-economic change

Publications:                                                                                          

‘The Sleeping Kimono: Kinship Cosmology and Shifting Generational Understandings of the Kimono in Contemporary Japan’ (to be submitted to HAU)

‘From Duty to Fashion: The Changing Role of the Kimono in the Twenty-First Century’ (published online in Fashion Theory on 31 August 2017)

‘The “Kimono Wednesday” Protests: Identity Politics and How the Kimono Became More Than Japanese’ in Asian Ethnology 74(2): 379–399 (2015)

Email: julie.valk@stx.ox.ac.uk

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