SOCIAL REPRODUCTION AND THE POLITICS OF HOUSEHOLD: THE EXTENSION OF THE FARM HOUSEHOLD SURVEY TO OKINAWA IN 1930

Wendy Matsumura
  wendymatsumura@yahoo.com
  

Abstract

Stream: Social reproduction, the reproduction of capital and the reproduction of nature

The Japanese state designated the small farming household (shono) as the primary target of protectionist policies for the first time after World War I. Thereafter, it became seen as an ideal unit that could serve as an antidote to the political and economic crises that plagued the nation after the war. The Farm Household Survey (Noka Keizai Chosa), which the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce enacted nationwide for the first time in 1921 was a key mechanism through which the state enacted this new policy. In the process, the small farming household became the primary unit through which private property relations and national belonging were authorized and the sexual differentiation of labor naturalized. Its requirement that ‘productive’ and ‘unproductive’ forms of labor be distinguished aided this process and facilitated the intensification of women’s work within the household economy. Its vast self-reporting component encouraged the development of intimate self-management by its respondents.

My paper examines the usefulness of the concept of oikonomics that Angela Mitropoulos develops in Contract and Contagion. Oikonomics, which she calls a “politics of the household” as it is combined with theorizations of social reproduction that Marxist feminists have deployed since the 1970s. What she adds is a pointed examination of the relationship between the politics of the household and the project of the frontier, or the search for new spheres of capitalization. I think about the extension of the survey as a mechanism that responded to what Marxist theoretician Uno Kozo called a global agrarian crisis that emerged after World War I to Okinawa, a region that was considered a frontier space within the Japanese empire, for the first time 9 years after its extension in mainland Japan, in 1930.

social reproduction, east asia, marxist feminism - agrarian question