ahorbinski: Emma Goldman, anarchist (play the red queen's game)
Bibliographic Data: Fujitani, Takashi. Splendid Monarchy: Power and Pageantry in Modern Japan. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.

Main Argument: Fujitani says that he "want[s] to remember the instant of historical rupture, the moment of the imperial institution's new emergence in modern Japan" (4). He argues that "the strong sense of national consciousness and identity that has characterized the modern Japanese is less a product of natural circumstances that can be traced back in time to the geological formation of the Japanese archipelago than of strategically motivated cultural policies pursued by Japan's modern ruling elites" (5). In sum, "the invention of Japan's modern national ceremonies was, quite simply, a response to specific domestic and international political forces of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries," and "however limited the Meiji regime might have been in producing a uniformity of belief or a uniformly self-disciplining population, its successes were considerable. Moreover, the imperial pageants as well as other elements in the regime's folklore certainly succeeded in producing a new sense of national simultaneity—a sharing of time among people who could not possibly have had face-to-face contact" (15, 29).

Historiographical Engagement: Geertz; Foucault; Durkheim, all of whom are wrong to varying degrees

Splendid monarchy )

Critical assessment: It's honestly surprising to me that Fujitani did his PhD here at Berkeley, as there is far too much theory in this book for it to represent a Berkeley approach; one might say that it smacks of the Harootunian. That said, there are a few points where I can hear Irv Scheiner in the text--as when Fujitani talks about things being "necessary but not sufficient," a locution I have heard multiple times in my Japan seminars--and I think Fujitani's work represents a really excellent synthesis of the Berkeley approach with theory. This is one of the few works of history I've read that I wish I had written, and all in all, it's an excellent book.

Further reading: Kenneth J. Ruoff, The People's Emperor, Imperial Japan at Its Zenith

Meta notes: Very monarchy. Much splendid. So pageantry.


ahorbinski: shelves stuffed with books (Default)
Andrea J. Horbinski

August 2017

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