Reading Note: Oleg Benesch, “Inventing the way of the Samurai: Nationalism, Internationalism, and Bushido in Modern Japan”

Before I praise Benesch’s book, a complaint: Oxford UP pricing is absurd. Now that’s not unusual for academic hardbacks, monographs that go to libraries and specialists. But 1) Benesch’s book should be a standard teaching text in modern Japanese history and culture, 2) there’s no reason for the ebook version to cost US$78. There are […]

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Lagging

Mohammad Fadel, in Islamic Monthly (h/t Naheed Mustafa) chides critics of Islam who take contemporary Western ideals of egalitarianism and personal freedom as their measure, saying: In this respect, Maher and Harris reflect the all too common historical amnesia common among liberals, who are too quick to forget the recentness of the egalitarian achievements of […]

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Modern Japan in Anglophone Historical Fiction

ASPAC 2013 Jonathan Dresner Pittsburg State University “But writers of fiction do not stumble onto locales or times: they choose them and they use them to serve their narrative and aesthetic ends.” — Jonathan Dresner “…flaws typical of the genre: a carefully set but very selective milieu; characters cobbled together from cultural and psychosocial fragments; […]

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Senkaku Islands: New Sources, New Clarity?

NYT reporter Nick Kristof brought in a guest blogger, Han-Yi Shaw of Taiwan, to examine some new mid-Meiji documentation about Japan’s relationship with the contested Senkaku/Daiyou islands. The core of Shaw’s findings is the Meiji government acknowledged Chinese ownership of the islands back in 1885. After several abortive attempts to survey the islands, the Japanese […]

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The Bow

Via my old friend Scott Eric Kaufman I learned that President Obama’s visit to Japan was drawing criticism from the American right (I also learned that President Eisenhower bowed in public to a number of heads of state) due to Obama’s bowed greeting to Emperor Akihito. Most of the commentary (this is an excellent roundup) […]

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Migration, Nationalism, Empire

Tessa Morris-Suzuki’s recent Japan Focus article, “Migrants, Subjects, Citizens: Comparative Perspectives on Nationality in the Prewar Japanese Empire” is an ambitious attempt to integrate identity, legal and strategic issues related to the problem of citizenship in the context of migrations within and between empires.1 The primary comparative material is to British examples, and students of […]

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