Ms Shiori Shakuto

Ms Shiori Shakuto

Position: PhD Candidate in Anthropology
School and/or Centres: School of Archaeology and Anthropology


Thesis Title: Anxious Intimacy: Negotiating Gender, Value and Belonging among Japanese Retirees in Malaysia



My PhD thesis presents a study of Japanese retirees who have elected to retire in Malaysia. I arrived in Kuala Lumpur in 2014 to study sensory responses of Japanese retirees to the Malaysian landscape, but discovered instead that the gender differences in the experiences of their overseas move into retirement were dominating everyday discussions among the retirees. Retired baby boomers had lived through Japan’s high growth period in which family and firm were strictly demarcated into a normative division of labour between women and men. Men’s retirement seemed to have unsettled many taken-for-granted categories including gender and intergenerational norms. I observed that their movement to Malaysia led retirees to reimagine and restructure relations between themselves and their spouses, with their children, and the wider Japanese state. 


The thesis focuses on three aspects of their lives: (1) their partial refashioning of retirement as affective labour; (2) their reconstitution of relationships with wives, children and other retirees; and (3) the sense of anxiety they felt around these transitions, and how that shaped the new relationships. I engage with a growing body of literature in feminist economic anthropology that looks at how economic transformations shape people’s intimate lives and how their lives in turn shape wider economic practices. The distinctiveness of the Malaysian field site provided a unique place from which my thesis addresses larger debates over the politics of intimacy and productivity. I move outward from their sense of anxieties to theorise how intimate relations are both shaped by, and shaping, the operations of society’s multiple regulatory forms in global capitalism today.


Executive, ANU Japan Institute, 2013-2015
Community Coordinator, ANU Burgmann College, 2013

Feminist economic anthropology, gender and shifting family relations in contemporary Japan, inter-Asian mobility, international development.


Shakuto, Shiori. 2017. ‘Japanese Radiation Refugees in Malaysia’. Anthropology News (American Anthropological Association) website. In the series, ‘In and Out of Japan’.

Shakuto, Shiori. 2017. Book review of ‘Japanese Tree Burial: Ecology, Kinship and Culture of Death’ by Sebastien Boret. The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology. 18(1). 95-97.

‘Conference Organisations and presentations’

Organiser, ‘Intimacy and Inter-Asia Connections: Innovative Approaches to Japanese-Southeast Asian Ties’, ANU, 11-13 August 2016. Funded by the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific Regional Institutes Innovative Project Competitive Grant.

Convener, ‘Queering Temporality: Rethinking Time in/from the Anthropology of Ageing’, Australian Anthropological Society Conference, University of Melbourne, Australia. 1-4 Dec 2015.

Convener, ‘Bodily Entanglements: Sensorial and Material Productions of the Social’, IUAES Inter-Congress, Thammasat University, Thailand. 15-17 Jul 2015. 

Presenter, ‘Sensuous Bodies: Japanese Retirement Migration to Malaysia’. AAS-in-Asia Conference, National University of Singapore. 17-19 Jul 2014.

Selected Awards and Grants

University of Cambridge Evans Fellowship, 2015 - 2016

Endeavour Research Fellowship, 2015

ANU PhD Scholarship, 2013-2016

Shibusawa Fund for Ethnological Studies International Conference Grant, 2011

The Carter Center YKK Research Scholarship, 2010-2011

United World College Scholarship, 2004-2006

Tutor, ANTH1003 Global Citizen: Culture, Development and Inequality, ANU, 2016

Tutor, ANTH8006 Social Mapping and Community Politics, ANU, 2015

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