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Dr. Robert Kramm
Society of Fellows in the Humanities Robert Kramm


BA Erfurt; MA Erfurt; PhD ETH Zurich

Office Run Run Shaw Heritage House,
Society of Fellows in the Humanities

Email Address


Current Research Project | Publications | Courses


Robert Kramm is a historian and post-doctoral fellow in the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at the University of Hong Kong. His field is global history of the 19th and 20th-centuries with a regional expertise in modern East Asia/Japan focusing on cultural history of the body, the history of everyday life, and the intersectionality of race, class, gender and sexuality.


Before joining the SoF at HKU, Robert Kramm was a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study, University of Konstanz (2016/17). From 2012 to 2015 he was a lecturer and PhD candidate at ETH Zurich where he earned his PhD in history 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).




Current Research Project


At HKU Robert Kramm is working on his second book project tentatively titled "Radical Utopian Communities: A Global History from the Margins, c. 1890-1950." The book will examine communes in Jamaica, Japan, and South Africa, ranging from religious sects to secular socio-political communes. These communes were 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.






Sanitized Sex: Regulating Prostitution, Venereal Disease and Intimacy in 
		Occupied Japan, 1945-1952

Sanitized Sex: Regulating Prostitution, Venereal Disease and Intimacy in Occupied Japan, 1945-1952


"Questions concerning prostitution, the actions of American male soldiers, the Japanese imperial government’s policies, and the US post-surrender occupation policies continue to be salient in Japanese domestic politics. Robert Kramm has done a terrific job of analyzing the evolving (1945–1952) relationships between the US military male police and the local Japanese male police in controlling women in prostitution and American male soldiers' relationships with those women."


- Cynthia Enloe, author of Bananas, Beaches and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics


"This important study rethinks the contours of sex work in occupied Japan and places the occupation squarely within the history of imperial encounter. Robert Kramm offers a sensitive and intelligent reading of the central importance of sex in the governance of a nation coming to terms with a new dynamics of power in the face of wartime defeat. A must-read for anyone interested in the history of sexuality, war, or imperialism."


- Philippa Levine, author of Prostitution, Race, and Politics: Policing Venereal Disease in the British Empire


Global Anti-Vice Activism: Fighting Drinks, Drugs and 'Immorality'
[co-edited with Jessica R. Pliley and Harald Fischer-Tiné]

"Located in the ever growing field of transnational history, 'Global Anti-Vice Activism' brings us on a journey through the entangled ideas and practices of late 19th and early 20th century vice. This edited book successfully demonstrates that the varying strands of vice, namely drugs, alcohol and sex, were not isolated phenomena, but rather historically intertwined both in practice and within debates on health and morality."

- Ruth Ennis, University of Leipzig


Global Anti-Vice Activism: Fighting Drinks, Drugs and 'Immorality'

"In their introduction the editors note that issues of moral reform were 'simultaneously embedded in a global grammar and preexisting local traditions of vice regulation' (p. 14). I am persuaded of their claim that the entanglement of these discourses and practices makes moral reform 'an ideal topic for global history' (p. 17); showing how such developments were forged through the mobility and newly transnational moral imaginations of this globalizing era importantly also opens space for a distinctive historical geography."


- David Beckingham, University of Cambridge




"Haunted by Defeat: Imperial Sexualities, Prostitution, and the Emergence of Postwar Japan," Journal of World History, 28, No. 3&4, special issue "Gender and Empire," (2017) (forthcoming).


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




Teaching Course


  • HIST2083 Gender, Sexuality and Empire
  • HIST2167 Anarchism, Radicalism, Utopianism: Actors, Communes and Movements in the Modern World


Latest Publication
Port Elgin's War Book
Sanitized Sex: Regulating Prostitution, Venereal Disease and Intimacy in Occupied Japan, 1945-1952

University of California Press

Publication Date: