ahorbinski: The five elements theory in the style of the periodic table of the elements.  (teach the controversy)
Bibliographic Data: Hardacre, Helen. Shinto and the State, 1868-1988. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989.

Main Argument: Hardacre argues that 1) state Shinto was largely an invented tradition and 2) that it was a radical departure from "anything in the country's previous religious history" (4). Attempting to "explore the significance for popular religious life of the state's involvement in Shinto between 1868 and 1945," Hardacre finds that "it is here that we see the expanding influence of the periphery over the center and the decreasing distance between the two relative to the situation in pre-Meiji Japan" (7).

Historiographical Engagement: Lots of shrine records.

State Shinto and after )

Critical assessment: This book does what it says on the tin, and for that reason it's no surprise that everybody cites it. Hardacre is not an inspired analyst, but she gets the job done.

Further reading: Fujitani, Splendid Monarchy; Gluck, Japan's Modern Myths

Meta notes: Given that Hardacre analyzes Shinto from within the paradigm of "religion" that was not native to Japan before 1853, and which Shinto priests continued to resist, I do wonder about the question of reflexivity.

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Andrea J. Horbinski

May 2016

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