In today’s episode, Xinyan Peng interviews Dr. Allison Alexy on her work that explores the intersection between intimacy and the economy. As a cultural anthropologist focusing on contemporary Japan with interest in ideals and experiences of family lives, constructions of intimacy, and legal anthropology, Dr. Alexy is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Michigan. Through the lens of family life, Dr. Alexy’s ethnographic research investigates changing norms around the social and legal constructions of gender contextualized within the rapid societal changes of recent decades. Her research makes clear that what might seem like private or personal family issues both reflect and significantly influence broader political and social trends. With Emma Cook, Dr. Alexy has co-edited the volume Intimate Japan: Ethnographies of Closeness and Conflict, and with Richard Ronald, she has co-edited the volume Home and Family in Japan: Continuity and Transformation. As part of her commitments to supporting emerging scholars and further diversifying research fields, she serves as the series editor from Asia Pop!, a book series focused on popular culture, at the University of Hawai’i Press and hosts the podcast “Michigan Talks Japan.”

Dr. Alexy’s most recent book, Intimate Disconnections: Divorce and the Romance of Independence in Contemporary Japan, considers how people negotiate freedom, happiness, and connections through divorce. It was published by the University of Chicago Press and is also available through open access. Since a Chinese version has been published by the East China Normal University Press, Xinyan also invited the Chinese translator of Dr. Alexy’s book to join the conversation. Amy Xu is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Sociology department at Brown University.


Cook, E. E. (2016). Reconstructing adult masculinities: part-time work in contemporary Japan. Routledge.

Hoang, K. K. (2015). Dealing in desire: Asian ascendancy, Western decline, and the hidden currencies of global sex work. University of California Press.

Koch, G. (2020). Healing labor: Japanese Sex Work in the Gendered Economy. Stanford University Press.

Host: Xinyan Peng
Guest: Dr. Allison Alexy
Research Assistant: Wenzhao Chen
Audio Editor: Seyma Kabaoglu

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Mergers & Acquisitions
Mergers & Acquisitions
Society for Economic Anthropology (SEA)

SEA’s podcast, Mergers and Acquisitions demonstrates how anthropological and other perspectives can enhance and complicate understandings of economic life and contemporary events. Mergers and Acquisitions hosts interviews with leading economic anthropologists, provides reflection pieces on economic transformations and problems, and serves as a vehicle for new and established scholars to connect with each other. Recognizing that the best ideas and insights are rarely generated alone, Mergers and Acquisitions offers a collective mind-hive for furthering the study of economic life.