A Companion to the Anthropology of Japan by Jennifer Robertson

By Jennifer Robertson

This ebook is an exceptional selection of 29 unique essays by way of a few of the world’s so much distinct students of Japan.

  • Covers a vast diversity of matters, together with the colonial roots of anthropology within the jap academy; eugenics and state development; majority and minority cultures; genders and sexualities; and model and nutrition cultures
  • Resists stale and deceptive stereotypes, via proposing new views on eastern tradition and society
  • Makes eastern society available to readers surprising with the country

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Like sculptors, social scientists, figuratively speaking, chip away at a block of marble in order to expose the Michelangelesque sculpture within. This method involves a priori knowledge of both the presence and the exact form of the ideal-type figure trapped inside: ‘‘the object, whether structure or personage, [is] stripped, so to speak, of all that is merely superficial and ephemeral, with only what is central and unifying left’’ (Nisbet 1977:71). Contrarily, the wholeness of Stein’s subjects bespeaks the acquisitive – as opposed to reductive – nature of her mode of portraiture.

One way to resolve this crisis is, figuratively speaking, to refabricate13 the received and homogenous (and homogenizing) portrait of ‘‘the Japanese’’ in the multifaceted mode of a 100-headed Kannon (Bodhisattva of Compassion). ’’ They reside not below the ‘‘smooth surface’’ of Japan today but rather comprise an integral part of that surface, which in reality is exquisitely – and phenotypically and culturally – textured. All of Kannon’s heads are different and differentiated, yet they all belong to the same body and collectively make up its integral, organic identity.

After World War II, these same anthropologists returned to Japan where they obtained university teaching positions. They made a point of keeping in touch with each other. Izumi referred to the group as the ‘‘Keijo anthropology school’’ (Keijo¯ Teikoku Daigaku So¯ritsu 50 Shu¯nen Kinenshi Hensan Iinkai 1974:239–243). What was the status of anthropology at other Japanese colonial universities? In 1928 Utsurikawa Nenozo ¯ , who had trained as an anthropologist under Roland B. Dixon at Harvard University, joined the literature and law faculty of Taihoku (Taipei) Imperial University in Taiwan, which included an Institute of Ethnology.

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