The Making of Modern Japan

Harvard University Press
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Magisterial in vision, sweeping in scope, this monumental work presents a seamless account of Japanese society during the modern era, from 1600 to the present. A distillation of more than fifty years' engagement with Japan and its history, it is the crowning work of our leading interpreter of the modern Japanese experience.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Harvard University Press
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Published on
Oct 15, 2002
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Pages
931
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ISBN
9780674503991
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Asia / Japan
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Since the end of World War II, Japan has determinately remained outside the current of world events and uninvolved in the processes determining global history and politics. In Japan and the World, distinguished scholars, novelists, and intellectuals articulate how Japan—despite unprecedented economic prowess in securing dominance in the world's market—is caught in a complex dependency with the United States. Drawing on critical and postmodernist theory, this timely volume situates this dependency in a broader historical context and assesses Japan's current dealings in international politics, society, and culture.
Among the many topics covered are: racism in U.S.-Japanese relations; productivity and workplace discourse; Western cultural hegemony; the constructing of a Japanese cultural history; and the place of the novelist in today's world. Originally published as a special issue of boundary 2 (Fall 1991), this edition includes four new essays on Japanese industrial revolution; the place of English studies in Japan; how American cultural, historical, and political discourse represented Japan and in turn how America's version of Japan became Japan's version of itself; and an "archaeology" of hegemonic relationships between Japan and America and Britain in the first half of the twentieth century.

Contributors. Eqbal Ahmad, Perry Anderson, Bruce Cumings, Arif Dirlik, H.D. Harootunian, Kazuo Ishuro, Fredric Jameson, Kojin Karatani, Oe Kenzaburo, Masao Miyoshi, Tetsuo Najita, Leslie Pincus, Naoki Sakai, Miriam Silverberg, Christena Turner, Rob Wilson, Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto
In the decades between the two World Wars, Japan made a dramatic entry into the modern age, expanding its capital industries and urbanizing so quickly as to rival many long-standing Western industrial societies. How the Japanese made sense of the sudden transformation and the subsequent rise of mass culture is the focus of Harry Harootunian's fascinating inquiry into the problems of modernity. Here he examines the work of a generation of Japanese intellectuals who, like their European counterparts, saw modernity as a spectacle of ceaseless change that uprooted the dominant historical culture from its fixed values and substituted a culture based on fantasy and desire. Harootunian not only explains why the Japanese valued philosophical understandings of these events, often over sociological or empirical explanations, but also locates Japan's experience of modernity within a larger global process marked by both modernism and fascism.

What caught the attention of Japanese thinkers was how the production of desire actually threatened historical culture. These intellectuals sought to "overcome" the materialism and consumerism associated with the West, particularly the United States. They proposed versions of a modernity rooted in cultural authenticity and aimed at infusing meaning into everyday life, whether through art, memory, or community. Harootunian traces these ideas in the works of Yanagita Kunio, Tosaka Jun, Gonda Yasunosuke, and Kon Wajiro, among others, and relates their arguments to those of such European writers as George Simmel, Siegfried Kracauer, Walter Benjamin, and Georges Bataille.


Harootunian shows that Japanese and European intellectuals shared many of the same concerns, and also stresses that neither Japan's involvement with fascism nor its late entry into the capitalist, industrial scene should cause historians to view its experience of modernity as an oddity. The author argues that strains of fascism ran throughout most every country in Europe and in many ways resulted from modernizing trends in general. This book, written by a leading scholar of modern Japan, amounts to a major reinterpretation of the nature of Japan's modernity.

This book is a collection of interwoven historical narratives that present an intriguing and little known account of the Ogasawara (Bonin) archipelago and its inhabitants. The narratives begin in the seventeenth century and weave their way through various events connected to the ambitions, hopes, and machinations of individuals, communities, and nations. At the center of these narratives are the Bonin Islanders, originally an eclectic mix of Pacific Islanders, Americans, British, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, and African settlers that first landed on the islands in 1830. The islands were British sovereign territory from 1827 to 1876, when the Japanese asserted possession of the islands based on a seventeenth century expedition and a myth of a samurai discoverer. As part of gaining sovereign control, the Japanese government made all island inhabitants register as Japanese subjects of the national family register. The islanders were not literate in Japanese and had little experience of Japanese culture and limited knowledge of Japanese society, but by 1881 all were forced or coerced into becoming Japanese subjects. By the 1930s the islands were embroiled in the Pacific War. All inhabitants were evacuated to the Japanese mainland until 1946 when only the descendants of the original settlers were allowed to return. In the postwar period the islands fell under U.S. Navy administration until they were reverted to full Japanese sovereignty in 1968. Many descendants of these original settlers still live on the islands with family names such as Washington, Gonzales, Gilley, Savory, and Webb. This book explores the social and cultural history of these islands and its inhabitants and provides a critical approach to understanding the many complex narratives that make up the Bonin story.
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