Exploring the fundamental question of how a new discipline comes into being, this groundbreaking book tells the story of the emergence of native ethnology in Imperial Japan, a "one nation" social science devoted to the study of the Japanese people. Roughly corresponding to folklore studies or ethnography in the West, this social science was developed outside the academy over the first half of the twentieth century by a diverse group of intellectuals, local dignitaries, and hobbyists. Alan Christy traces the paths of the distinctive individuals who founded minzokugaku, how theory and practice developed, and how many previously unknown figures contributed to the growth of the discipline. Despite its humble beginnings, native ethnology today is a fixture in Japanese intellectual life, offering arguments and evidence about the popular, as opposed to elite, foundations of Japanese culture. Speaking directly to fundamental questions in anthropology, this authoritative and engaging book will become a standard not only for the field of native ethnology but also as a major work in broader modern Japanese cultural and intellectual history.
About the Author
Alan Christy is associate professor of history and director of East Asian Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz.