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A Companion to the Anthropology of Japan

ISBN: 978-1-4051-8289-8
544 pages
March 2008, Wiley-Blackwell
A Companion to the Anthropology of Japan (140518289X) cover image
A Companion to the Anthropology of Japan is an unprecedented collection of original essays by some of the field's most distinguished scholars of Japan which, taken together, offer a comprehensive overview of the field. Aiming to retire stale and misleading stereotypes, the authors present new perspectives on Japanese culture and society - past and present - in accessible language.

A Companion to the Anthropology of Japan covers a broad range of issues, controversies, and everyday practices, including the unacknowledged colonial roots of anthropology in the Japanese academy; legacies of nationalist research; eugenics and nation-building; majority and minority cultures; class and status; genders and sexualities; urban spectacle and rural 'undevelopment'; domestic, corporate, and educational ideologies and practices; the mass media, leisure, and 'infotainment' industries; women's and men's sports; fashion and food cultures; ideas of nature, life, and death; new and folk religions; and science and biotechnology.

Collectively, these chapters not only demonstrate Japan's significance for anthropological research but also help make Japanese society accessible to readers unfamiliar with the country. A Companion to the Anthropology of Japan is a reference volume for scholars, but is also designed to serve as a primary text for courses in anthropology and sociology, history, and Japan and East Asian Studies.
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Synopses of Contents.

Notes on Contributors.

Part I: Introduction:.

1. Introduction: Putting and Keeping Japan in Anthropology (Jennifer Robertson, University of Michigan).

Part II: Cultures, Histories, and Identities:.

2. The Imperial Past of Anthropology in Japan: (Katsumi Nakao, Osaka City University).

3. Japanese Archaeology and Cultural Properties Management: Prewar Ideology and Postwar Legacies: Walter Edwards (Tenri University).

4. Feminism, Timelines, and History-Making: Tomomi Yamaguchi (University of Chicago).

5. Making Majority Culture: Roger Goodman (University of Oxford).

6. Political and Cultural Perspectives on ‘Insider’ Minorities: Joshua Hotaka Roth (Mount Holyoke College).

7. Japan’s Ethnic Minority: Koreans: Sonia Ryang (Johns Hopkins University).

8. Shifting Contours of Class and Status: Glenda S. Roberts (Waseda University).

9. The Anthropology of Japanese Corporate Management: Tomoko Hamada (College of William and Mary).

10. Fashioning Cultural Identity: Body and Dress: Ofra Goldstein-Gidoni (Tel Aviv University).

11. Genders and Sexualities: Sabine Frühstück (University of California, Santa Barbara).

Part III: Geographies and Boundaries, Spaces and Sentiments:.

12. On the ‘Nature’ of Japanese Culture, or, Is There a Japanese Sense of Nature?: D. P. Martinez (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London).

13. The Rural Imaginary: Landscape, Village, Tradition: Scott Schnell (University of Iowa).

14. Tokyo’s Third Rebuilding: New Twists on Old Patterns: Roman Cybriwsky (Temple University, Japan and USA).

15. Japan’s Global Village: A View from the World of Leisure: Joy Hendry (Oxford Brookes University, and St Antony’s College, University of Oxford).

Part IV: Socialization, Assimilation, and Identification:.

16. Formal Caring Alternatives: Kindergartens and Day-Care Centers: Eyal Ben-Ari (Hebrew University, Jerusalem).

17. Post-Compulsory Schooling and the Legacy of Imperialism: Brian Mcveigh (University of Arizona, Tucson).

18. Theorizing the Cultural Importance of Play: Anthropological Approaches to Sports and Recreation: Elise Edwards (Butler University).

19. Popular Entertainment and the Music Industry: Shuhei Hosokawa (International Research Center for Japanese Studies, Kyoto).

20. There’s More Than Manga: Popular Nonfiction Books and Magazines: Laura Miller (Loyola University, Chicago).

Part V: Body, Blood, Self, and Nation:.

21. Biopower:Blood, Kinship, and Eugenic Marriage: Jennifer Robertson (University of Michigan).

22. The Ie, the Modern Family, and Beyond: Emiko Ochiai (Kyoto University).

23. Constrained Person and Creative Agent: A Dying Student’s Narrative of Self and Others: Susan Orpett Long (John Carroll University).

24. Nation, Citizenship, and Cinema: Aaron Gerow (Yale University).

25. Culinary Culture and the Making of a National Cuisine: Katarzyna Cwiertka (Leiden University).

Part VI: Religion and Science, Beliefs and Bioethics:.

26. Historical, New, and ‘New’ New Religions: Ian Reader (Lancaster University).

27. Folk Religion and its Contemporary Issues: Noriko Kawahashi (Nagoya Institute of Technology).

28. Women Scientists and Gender Ideology: Sumiko Otsubo (Metropolitan State University).

29. Preserving Moral Order: Responses to Biomedical Technologies: Margaret Lock (McGill University).


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Jennifer Robertson is Professor of Anthropology, University of Michigan. Robertson has published many articles and book chapters on a wide spectrum of subjects ranging from the seventeenth century to the present. Her most recent research projects include Japanese colonial culture-making, eugenic modernity, war art, and comparative bioethics. She is the author of Native and Newcomer: Making and Unmaking a Japanese City (1991), Takarazuka: Sexual Politics and Popular Culture in Modern Japan (1998), and editor of Same-Sex Cultures and Sexualities: An Anthropological Reader (Blackwell, 2004). She is finishing a new book, Blood and Beauty: Eugenic Modernity and Empire in Japan.
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  • Comprises 29 original essays by some of the field’s most distinguished scholars
  • Covers a broad range of issues, including the colonial roots of anthropology in the Japanese academy; eugenics and nation building; majority and minority cultures; genders and sexualities; and fashion and food cultures
  • Resists stale and misleading stereotypes, by presenting new perspectives on Japanese culture and society
  • Makes Japanese society accessible to readers unfamiliar with the country
See More
"This groundbreaking symposium will serve scholars well as a reference volume ... Challenging yet accessible, this is essential stock for all academic libraries, and for reference libraries with any interest in disciplines spanned or in Far East Studies. Blackwell Companions are setting an admirable standard as they blaze new trails."
Reference Reviews

"This is a handsomely produced volume in the recently launched Blackwell series of companions to the major fields of anthropology. ... Well-written and comprehensively documented."
Ethnic and Racial Studies

“Despite the magnitude of the task, Robertson has succeeded in this collection. Taken together, these 29 original chapters provide historical and theoretical grounding across a range of subjects. The diverse approaches taken here offer insight into a great variety of cultural aspects and social players, but articulate a ‘Japan’ that eludes any claims of homogeneity.”
Steffi Richter, Universität Leipzig

“This Companion provides amazingly wide coverage on contemporary Japan. What's more, it challenges the very idea of anthropology in interesting ways. Although written by experts in the field, it will be of such great interest to students and others new to the field that it may well spark the imagination of the next Ruth Benedict in the making.”
Kazue Muta, Osaka University

A Companion to the Anthropology of Japan is a rich collection by Japanese and international researchers that demystifies Japanese culture and society. Challenging static and ahistorical perceptions of Japan, it ranges widely across space and time to provide an innovative and critical study of minorities, gender, culture, education, family, ritual, citizenship, and more.”
Mark Selden, Binghamton and Cornell Universities

"This is without doubt a creative, informative, and conscientiously argued book from which anthropologists and other students of Japan will have much to learn."
Current Anthropology

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