Allison Alexy


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Professional Title

Associate Professor, Department of Women's and Gender Studies


Asian Languages and Cultures
College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA)
Women's & Gender Studies


Allison Alexy is a cultural anthropologist focusing on contemporary Japan, with interest in ideals and experiences of family lives, constructions of intimacy, and legal anthropology. Through the lens of family life, her 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.

Her 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, with subvention funds from the TOME program. A Japanese version was published by Misuzu Press and a Chinese version will come from East China Normal University Press.

She is currently writing a book, Family Law in a Family Nation: Parental Abductions and Activism in Contemporary Japan. This book explores how conflicts between family members – such as custody disputes, parental abductions, and more – are handled in the court system and also by individual people if the courts provide insufficient resolution. With Emma Cook, she co-edited Intimate Japan: Ethnographies of Closeness and Conflict.  The volume was chosen by Knowledge Unlatched to be published through open access and the full book is available online. With Richard Ronald, she co-edited 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. Read more on Allison Alexy's website.

Research Interests

qualitative research
social sciences