By Susan L. Burns

Exploring the emergence and evolution of theories of nationhood that remain evoked in present-day Japan, Susan L. Burns offers an in depth exam ofthe late-eighteenth-century highbrow move kokugaku, this means that "the examine of our country.”

Departing from past experiences of kokugaku that excited about intellectuals whose paintings has been valorized through sleek students, Burns seeks to get well the a number of methods "Japan" as social and cultural id started to be imagined sooner than modernity.Central to Burns's research is Motoori Norinaga’s Kojikiden, arguably crucial highbrow paintings of Japan's early glossy interval. Burns situates the Kojikiden as one in a chain of makes an attempt to investigate and interpret the mythohistories courting from the early 8th century, the Kojiki and Nihon shoki. Norinaga observed those texts as keys to an unique, real, and idyllic Japan that existed ahead of being tainted via "flawed" international affects, particularly Confucianism and Buddhism.

Hailed within the 19th century because the begetter of a brand new nationwide realization, Norinaga's Kojikiden used to be later condemned by means of a few as a resource of Japan's twentieth-century descent into militarism, warfare, and defeat. Burns seems extensive at 3 kokugaku writers—Ueda Akinari, Fujitani Mitsue, and Tachibana Moribe—who contested Norinaga's interpretations and produced competing readings of the mythohistories that provided new theories of neighborhood because the foundation for jap social and cultural identification.

Though relegated to the footnotes by way of a later new release of students, those writers have been relatively influential of their day, and by way of convalescing their arguments, Burns unearths kokugaku as a fancy debate—involving historical past, language, and subjectivity—with repercussions extending good into the fashionable period.

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Additional info for Before the Nation: Kokugaku and the Imagining of Community in Early Modern Japan (Asia-Pacific: Culture, Politics, and Society)

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The nature of protests changed as well. They became larger and more disorderly—and had new targets. As Stephen Vlastos has demonstrated, in the early Tokugawa period, rebellions took the form of ‘‘peaceful appeals’’ for benevolence from those above, in which peasants asked for tax relief or disaster aid from the political authorities of their domain. In contrast, the peasant rebellions of the late Tokugawa period were frequently mass demonstrations that involved significant destruction of property.

About the same time, in a letter directed to the Edo magistrate who was in charge of enforcing the censorship laws, Hayashi urged that Norinaga’s works be examined carefully because they contained Late Tokugawa Society 33 many dangerous passages. 56 Another kokugaku scholar, Hirata Atsutane, was not so fortunate. In 1841 he was banished from Edo after one of his works caught the eye of the city magistrate. As Hayashi Jussai’s remarks on Norinaga’s work reveal, in this period the bakufu was increasingly concerned with enforcing ideological orthodoxy, a trend that began in 1790 when Matsudaira Sadanobu sponsored the promulgation of the ‘‘prohibition of heterodoxy’’ (igaku no kin).

Such considerations were never merely or even mainly stylistic or rhetorical in nature. In making these kind of choices, the editors of texts who inserted the diacritical markers inscribed differences of interpretation as well as differences of tone and register into the text, even while maintaining the appearance of similitude. Those who explored the language of the Nihon shoki and the Kojiki in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Japan did so from within well-established paradigms of discursive practice, most particularly Neo-Confucianism, the predominance of which had given rise to Confucian-Buddhist and Confucian-Shinto syncretism.

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Before the Nation: Kokugaku and the Imagining of Community by Susan L. Burns
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