Anthropology and Colonialism in Asia: Comparative and Historical Colonialism, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Anthropology and Colonialism in Asia

Comparative and Historical Colonialism, 1st Edition

By Jan van Bremen, Akitoshi Shimizu


424 pages

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For a time it was almost a cliche to say that anthropology was a handmaiden of colonialism - by which was usually meant 'Western' colonialism. And this insinuation was assumed to somehow weaken the theoretical claims of anthropology and its fieldwork achievements.

What this collection demonstrates is that colonialism was not only a Western phenomenon, but 'Eastern' as well. And that Japanese or Chinese anthropologists were also engaged in studying subject peoples.

But wherever they were and whoever they were anthropologists always had a complex and problematic relationship with the colonial state. The latter saw some anthropologists' sympathy for 'the natives' as a threat, while on the other hand anthropological knowledge was used for the training of colonial officials.

The impact of the colonial situation on the formation of anthropological theories is an important if not easily answered question, and the comparison of experiences in Asia offered in this book further helps to illuminate this complex relationship.


'This important volume will be very useful to those interested in the history of anthropology, colonialism and anthropology, and Asia. This work breaks new ground in exploring lesser-known anthropologies and their uses in a variety of colonial contexts. Their compilation into one volume will provide specialists from other academic traditions and world regions with a basic understanding of anthropology in these arenas that will be useful for their further exploration and comparison.' - Suzanne Falgout, Journal of Asian History (JAH)

'I believe that this book is a valuable contribution to the project of critically examining the world history of anthropology…the experiences of Japanese anthroplogy examined in this book provide significant lessons that deserve worldwide attention.' - Prof. Shinji Yamashita, Social Science Japan Journal

About the Series

Anthropology of Asia

Asia today is one of the most dynamic regions of the world. The previously predominant image of ‘timeless peasants’ has given way to the image of fast-paced business people, mass consumerism and high-rise urban conglomerations. Yet much discourse remains entrenched in the polarities of East versus West’, ‘Tradition versus Change’. This series hopes to provide a forum for anthropological studies which break with such polarities. It will publish titles dealing with cosmopolitanism, cultural identity, representations, arts and performance. The complexities of urban Asia, its elites, its political rituals, and its families will also be explored.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies