Love From Tokyo is an exploration of urban life and politics maintained by Alexander Brown. I am a father, writer, researcher and city-dweller from Port Kembla, a major industrial centre located two hours south of Sydney in New South Wales, Australia. From December 2018 until November 2020 I will be living in western Tokyo and working as a post-doctoral research fellow at Japan Women’s University. My post-doctoral research project focuses on urban social movements in western Tokyo and their imbrication with the broader history and politics of Japan and the region. I will be attempting to read movements and spaces in the region in order to understand the ways in which urban struggles shape the city and the city in turn shapes these struggle.
This project follows on from my PhD research, conducted at the University of Wollongong from 2010 to 2015. In this earlier research, which formed the basis for my book Anti-nuclear Politics in Post-Fukushima Tokyo: Power Struggles (2018), I charted the rise of a powerful anti-nuclear movement in Japan’s largest city after the Fukushima nuclear disaster of March 2011. I discussed the relationship between social movements and the city in the context of a post-industrial society where urban poverty and precarity are on the rise and the verities of urban life that assumed enormous social significance during the post-war boom are no longer guaranteed. By getting involved in political movements, the urban precariat sought to create breathing room for their everyday lives and reclaim the city as a space for democratic politics.
In this new project I want to build on this earlier research by documenting the changing nature of urban struggles in precarious Japan. With a focus on Tama district of western Tokyo, I will look at the ways in which people resist austerity and social control while creating alternative forms of urban community that are increasingly autonomous from the logics of capitalist urbanism.