"Old cities, new country: modern Japan below and beyond the nation-state"
Recent developments on the ground and in the academy--urban anomie, machizukuri, and rural depopulation; a surge of writing on the city and globalization--suggest that it might be time to adjust our longstanding preoccupation with the nation-state in thinking and teaching about modern Japan. Shifting the focus to the city and the countryside, the everyday contexts for modern lives, quickly reveals an alternative perspective on the dynamics and dilemmas of
modernisation and modernity. The archipelago becomes less different and more complex, a useful place with which to challenge students to move beyond the nostrums commonly deployed to put it in its place.
This talk will ask how best to do this, using a course now in
development and focusing on the pedagogical possibilities and pitfalls of the modern history of Japanese cities. To what extent should urban Japan be put in comparative perspective? How should one balance possible approaches and topics--for example, the development of the city as against experience in the city; the glitz of downtown vs the depressed periphery? And what kind of primary materials can one use, given the limited amount of documentation translated into English?
(What place should literature have in a history class?) A workshop rather than a lecture, criticism and contribution is more than welcome.
Angus Lockyer is Lecturer in Japanese History at SOAS in London, Senior Editor of Japan Forum, and currently Visiting Associate Professor at the National Museum of Ethnology.
From 6 to 8 p.m. in Room 217, Kyodai Kaikan.
For information on access:
Please remember that you may bring only bottled drinks (with caps), no food.
Sponsored by the Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies
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