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Robert Kramm


Dr. Robert Kramm is a global and cultural historian of the 20th century with a main focus on modern Japan, the history of everyday life and the history of the body, gender and sexuality. Before joining HKU’s Society of Fellows in the Humanities, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study, University of Konstanz. In 2015, he earned his PhD in history at ETH Zurich with a thesis entitled “Sanitized Sex: Regulating Prostitution, Venereal Disease and Intimacy in Occupied Japan, 1945-1952,” recently published as a monograph with University of California Press (2017).

At HKU Robert Kramm is working on his second book project tentatively called “Radical Utopian Communities: A Global History from the Margins, c. 1890-1950.” The book will examine communes in Japan, but also Jamaica and South Africa, ranging from religious sects to secular socio-political communes. Communes are significant hubs for the meeting of people across national and imperial boundaries. The selection of cases deliberately encompasses spatially and ideologically separated people and movements in different cultural, political and social contexts. The project’s aim is to stress the interplay of diversity, difference, and similarity in the modern world. Radical utopian communities offer an ideal opportunity to analyze the range and limits of actors of globalization and the circulation of knowledge. And they afford a new vantage point from which to narrate a decentered, non-Eurocentric global history of the early twentieth century from the margins of the geographical, political and social spectrum.

Robert Kramm has moved to Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich. For more information,  please visit



Sanitized Sex: Regulating Prostitution, Venereal Disease, and Intimacy in Occupied Japan, 1945-1952 (Oakland: University of California Press, 2017).

Global Anti-Vice Activism: Fighting Drinks, Drugs and ‘Immorality’, co-edited with Jessica R. Pliley and Harald Fischer-Tiné (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016).

Articles (peer-reviewed)

“Sexual Violence, Masculinity and Agency in Post-Surrender Japan, 1945,” Journal of Women’s History 31, No. 1 (2019): 62-85.

“Haunted by Defeat: Imperial Sexualities, Prostitution, and the Emergence of Postwar Japan,” Journal of World History, 28, No. 3&4 (2017): 587-614.

“Reine Körper: Praktiken der Regulierung von Prostitution, Geschlechtskrankheiten und Intimität während der frühen US-Okkupation Japans,” Geschichte und Gesellschaft 40, No. 4 (2014): 493-522.

Book Chapters

“Introduction: A Plea for a ‘Vicious Turn’ in Global History,” co-authored with Jessica R. Pliley and Harald Fischer-Tiné in: Global Anti-Vice Activism: Fighting Drinks, Drugs and ‘Immorality’, ed. by Jessica Pliley, Robert Kramm, and Harald Fischer-Tiné. 1-30. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016.

“‘Hey, GI, want pretty flower girl?’ Venereal disease, Sanitation, and Geopolitics in U.S. Occupied Japan and Korea, 1945-1948,” in: Global Anti-Vice Activism: Fighting Drinks, Drugs and ‘Immorality’, ed. by Jessica Pliley, Robert Kramm, and Harald Fischer-Tiné. 290-312. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016.

“Sexualerziehung und Charakterbildung: Das Erbe der Moralreform während der US-Okkupation Japans, 1945-1952,” in: Biopolitik und Sittlichkeitsreform: Kampagnen gegen Alkohol, Drogen und Prostitution, 1880-1950, ed. by Judith Große, Francesco Spöring, and Jana Tschurenev. 349-381. Frankfurt/Main: Campus, 2014.

Other Publications

“Geschlecht und Sexualität” [Gender and Sexuality], introductionary article in the online dossier Globalgeschichte und Postkolonialismus, Federal Agency for Civic Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung), Germany,>.

Recent Conferences and Invited Talks

“Anarchist Communalism in Theory and Practice in Imperial Japan, c. 1920-1930,” International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS) 2019, Leiden, July 16-19, 2019.

“Anarchist Communism in Early Twentieth Century Japan,” International Workshop, Communicating Community: Anarchism and Its Boundaries, European University Institute, Florence, July 8, 2019.

“Utopia and Nature in Imperial Japan’s Anarchist Movement,” 20th International Conference of the Utopian Studies Society, Monash University’s Prato Centre, July 1-5, 2019.

“Sex and Power in Occupied Japan,” Asian Institute at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, University of Toronto, March 25, 2019.

“Sex, VD, and Communism: The Fear of Sexual and Political Deviance in U.S. Occupied Japan and Korea,” Annual Conference of the Association for Asian Studies (AAS), Denver, CO, March 22-24, 2019 (paper accepted).

“Trans-Imperial Anarchism: Cooperatist Communitarian Theory and Practice in Imperial Japan,” Annual Conference of the American Historical Association (AHA), Chicago, IL, January 3-6, 2019.

“Mobility and the Body in Early Twentieth Century Radical Utopian Communities,” International Conference, Cooperation and Self-Government: Sociopolitical Experiments in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, German Historical Institute Paris, September 17-19, 2018.

“Anarchism in Imperial Japan: Cooperatist Communitarian Thought and Practice, c. 1920-1930,” 5th International Conference of the Anarchist Studies Network, Decolonise!, Loughborough University, September 12-14, 2018.

Book Talk, “Sanitized Sex: Regulating Prostitution, Venereal Disease, and Intimacy during the Occupation of Japan, 1945-1952,” Global Asia Studies Workshop, Waseda University, May 28, 2018.

“Mobility and the Body in Radical Utopian Communities,” University of Haifa, April 23, 2018.

“Radical Utopian Communities: Anarchist Community Building in Imperial Japan from a Postcolonial Perspective,” Fifth European Congress on World and Global History in Budapest, August 31-September 3, 2017.

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