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Japan's Orient: Rendering Pasts into History
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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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