Remembering the ‘comfort women’: geographies of displacement, violence and memory in the Asia-Pacific and beyond

Orhon Myadar, R. A. Davidson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The ‘comfort women’ system of the 1930s and 1940s, in which girls and women were coerced to serve as sex slaves for the Imperial Army of Japan, was one of the most systematic and institutionalized forms of violence against female bodies in contemporary world history. In spite of the unparalleled scale and systematic nature of the violence against thousands of women, the world knew little about this system until the 1980s when former ‘comfort women’ began to speak out. Geographic scholarship remains virtually nonexistent on the geographies of the displacement and violence experienced by these women and girls enslaved across Japan’s war fronts in Asia-Pacific regions. By calling our collective attention to this gross and gendered violence, this paper situates Japan’s ‘comfort women’ system in broader spatial and temporal contexts to illustrate the historical and ongoing subjugation of and violence against women, their bodies and sexuality. Using a feminist geopolitical framework, we problematize the nationalist and geopolitical framing of the legacy of ‘comfort women’ and memorial sites that are dedicated to them. Rather, we center our analysis on the embodied, intimate and lived sites of violence experienced by the women and girls under the ‘comfort women’ system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-369
Number of pages23
JournalGender, Place and Culture
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2021


  • displacement
  • gendered violence
  • sexual slavery
  • ‘Comfort women’

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Demography
  • Cultural Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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