Queer will: Hikikomori as willful subjects
ABSTRACT This article considers hikikomori as willful subjects. The hikikomori are a portion of the Japanese population who withdraw into their homes. These are mostly young people (between the ages of 15 and 35) and mostly young men. The focus of this article is how hikikomori constitute a challenge to dominant national imaginaries of Japan as a “corporate-family system.” This article analyses popular media and psychiatric representations of hikikomori, particularly from Saitô’s work as exemplifying Ahmed’s notion of “willful subjects.” It is argued that the hikikomori’s apparent willfulness produces them as Queer subjects who are out of place and pace with the dominant heteronormative, masculinist culture of contemporary Japan.
KEYWORDS: Hikikomori; Japan; media; “willfulness”; Queer
Notes on contributor
Rosemary Overell works at the University of Otago. Her most recent work considers how gendered subjectivities are co-constituted by and through mediation. She draws particularly on Lacanian psychoanalysis to explore a variety of mediated sites. In particular, she considers the intersections between affect and signification and how these produce gender. Rosemary has looked at media as varied as anime, extreme metal and reality television.