Amy Borovoy

Professor of Japanese Anthropology
Office Phone
208 Jones Hall
Office Hours
Wednesday: 11:00 am-12:00 pm

Or by appointment

  • Ph.D. in Anthropology, Stanford University
  • M.A. in Anthropology, Stanford University
  • B.A. in Psychology, Magna cum laude, Harvard University

Borovoy is a cultural and medical anthropologist interested in how societies organize themselves to provide social care, public health, and mental health care to individuals. Her first book, The Too-Good Wife: Alcohol, Codependence, and the Politics of Nurturance in Postwar Japanconcerns women’s work in containing the social harms of heavy drinking. Through an ethnography of a Tokyo community health center, the book explores competing ethics of care and autonomy.

Borovoy has written on the issue of hikikomori, eating disorders in Japan, the behavioral psychology of mass public health screening, and the ethical commitment to inclusion and equality as it affects special education and mental health care. In 2022 she published an article on Covid-19 containment in Japan. Her most recent research looks at aging and the ethics of brain death and deceased and living organ donation in Japan and more broadly.

Borovoy’s current book manuscript project (under review) is an analysis of canonical U.S. social science texts written about Japan in the latter half of the 20th century. The manuscript centers on Japan’s emergence as a thought experiment for scholars studying its different path to modernity. It looks at the emergence of Japan as terrain for criticism and the surprising ways that it provoked scholars to reflect on the limits of American individualism, utilitarianism, and the separation of society from economy.

Her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, Fulbright Program, American Council for Learned Societies, Abe Fellowship, Japan Foundation Fellowship for Long-Term Research, and Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission-National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Fellowship Program for Advanced Social Science Research on Japan.

Borovoy was a member of the School of Social Science, Institute for Advanced Study, 2006-7 and a visitor in 2016-17. She has also been a faculty research associate at Hitotsubashi University (2011-2012), International Christian University (2011-2012), and Sophia University. At Princeton she is faculty affiliate with the Global Japan Lab, Center for Health and Well-Being, Global Health Program, and University Center for Human Values.

Borovoy also sits as a community member on the Bioethics Committee of the Robert Wood Johnson Hospital in New Brunswick.