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Risa Kitagawa (Northeastern University), “Legacies of Wartime Sexual Violence: Evidence from World War II ‘Comfort Stations'”

April 11 @ 8:00 pm - 9:00 pm EDT

U.S. ET: April 11 (Thursday), 8 – 9 PM

JST: April 12 (Friday), 9 – 10 AM

Zoom Registration: Link

Paper is available here.

Authors: Risa Kitagawa (Northeastern University) and Sumin Lee (Texas A&M University).

What are the long-term effects of wartime sexual violence on trust? We argue that whereas sexual violence reinforces perceptions of state absence, it compels affected communities to turn to kinship and social bonds for communal coping, building social trust over time. We provide evidence from original geocoded data of over 4,000 “comfort stations” across Asia—the Japanese Imperial Army’s institution of sexual slavery during World War II. Our cross-national and sub-national tests get analytical leverage from prewar railroad networks as a treatment assignment mechanism and the rarity of postwar repatriation of “comfort women.” Proximity to historical “comfort stations” sites consistently predicts a higher likelihood of social trust today, but not political trust. We document causal mechanisms through historical oral testimonies. Some consequences of wartime sexual violence may follow a distinct logic from broader conflict, as communities rely on social ties to survive the stigmatized trauma of rape.

Presenter: Risa Kitagawa (Northeastern University)

Discussant: Eun A Jo (Cornell University and University of Notre Dame)

Chair: Daniel M. Smith (University of Pennsylvania)


April 11
8:00 pm - 9:00 pm EDT