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Japan's Orient: Rendering Pasts into History

3.15  ·  Rating Details ·  20 Ratings  ·  2 Reviews
Stefan Tanaka examines how late nineteenth and early twentieth century Japanese historians created the equivalent of an "Orient" for their new nation state. He argues that the Japanese attempted to use a variety of pasts—Chinese, Indian, and proto-historic Japanese—to construct an identity that was both modern and Asian.
Paperback, 305 pages
Published February 8th 1995 by University of California Press (first published February 1st 1993)
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Oct 05, 2015 Joshua rated it really liked it
Tanaka's main idea is simple, yet profound. His argument is that in seeking equivalence with the West, Japan created difference, and inadvertently created a totality that rivalled the West's - toyoshi (the Orient). In this regard, Japanese historian used precisely the same forms of objectivism that bedeviled the study of history in the West, an objectivism that seemed fair but masked biasness. Tanaka looks at how Japanese historians appropriated various sources of history (like the Kojiki/Nihon ...more
morning Os
Dec 15, 2009 morning Os rated it liked it
Overall good stuff. I'm grateful to Tanaka for summarizing the argument nicely in the introduction.
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“Shina is the Japanese appellation for China most commonly used during the first half of the twentieth century. After World War II the name for China reverted to chugoku (Middle Kingdom), a common name from before the Meiji Restoration (1868).4” 0 likes
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