Rethinking Japanese Studies: Eurocentrism and the Asia-Pacific Region, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Rethinking Japanese Studies

Eurocentrism and the Asia-Pacific Region, 1st Edition

Edited by Kaori Okano, Yoshio Sugimoto


232 pages

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Japanese Studies has provided a fertile space for non-Eurocentric analysis for a number of reasons. It has been embroiled in the long-running internal debate over the so-called Nihonjinron, revolving around the extent to which the effective interpretation of Japanese society and culture requires non-Western, Japan-specific emic concepts and theories. This book takes this question further and explores how we can understand Japanese society and culture by combining Euro-American concepts and theories with those that originate in Japan. Because Japan is the only liberal democracy to have achieved a high level of capitalism outside the Western cultural framework, Japanese Studies has long provided a forum for deliberations about the extent to which the Western conception of modernity is universally applicable. Furthermore, because of Japan’s military, economic and cultural dominance in Asia at different points in the last century, Japanese Studies has had to deal with the issues of Japanocentrism as well as Eurocentrism, a duality requiring complex and nuanced analysis.

This book identifies variations amongst Japanese Studies academic communities in the Asia-Pacific and examines the extent to which relatively autonomous scholarship, intellectual approach or theories exist in the region. It also evaluates how studies on Japan in the region contribute to global Japanese Studies and explores their potential for formulating concrete strategies to unsettle Eurocentric dominance of the discipline.


'These chapters contain a key to understand not simply how to make Japanese Studies relevant to a world in which Japan may seem passé, but also how area studies might enable a transcendence of the constraints of Eurocentrism and provincial Anglo-American standards of academic judgment.' - Gordon Mathews,Professor of Anthropology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

'Nonetheless,the book makes noteworthy contributions and contains some intriguing findings. It explores the origins, impact, and emerging alternatives to Eurocentrism in Japanese studies, largely within the Asia-Pacific region. Contributors also touch on issues of global knowledge production, the international stratification of academia, and Asia-Pacific scholarship, thus reaching beyond a narrow focus of Japanese studies within the Asia Pacific.' - W. Lawrence Neuman, Professor of Sociology, University of Wisconsin, USA

'This valuable anthology invites us to refl ect on the continuing reality that Japan studies globally has been dominated by Anglophone scholarship, with key publications in English—and with the West often serving as the primary point of comparison. It offers a window into the fi eld of Japan studies in South Korea, Southeast Asia, Australia, and Japan itself and showcases collaborative research projects that study ransnational interplay among East Asian nations.' - Amy Borovoy, Professor of East Asian Studies, Princeton University, USA

Table of Contents

List of figures and tables

List of contributors


Chapter 1 Rethinking ‘Eurocentrism’ and Area Studies: Japanese Studies in the Asia-Pacific (Kaori Okano)

Chapter 2 Studying Japan as the ‘Other’: A Short History of Japanese Studies and Its Future (Eiji Oguma)

Chapter 3 Japanese Language Research: Kokugo as an Ideology, Nihongo as an Autonomous Global Scholarship? (Lidia Tanaka)

Chapter 4 From ‘National’ Literature to Multicultural Literature in ‘Japanese’ Language? (Tomoko Aoyama)

Chapter 5 Development of Japanese Studies with a Southeast-Asian Perspective (Leng Leng THANG)

Chapter 6 Japanese Studies in South Korea (Duck Yong LEE)

Chapter 7 Australia’s View of Japan, as Seen from Japanese Studies (Carolyn Stevens)

Chapter 8 Transnational Dialogues on Historical Issues Concerning East Asia: Collaborative Project to Write History Textbooks [China, Japan and South Korea] (BU Ping)

Chapter 9 Whispering, Writing and Working across Borders: Practising Transnational History in East Asia (Vera Mackie)

Chapter 10 Turning toward a Cosmopolitan Japanese Studies (Yoshio Sugimoto)



About the Editors

Kaori Okano is Professor in Asian Studies/Japanese at La Trobe University, and the President of the Japanese Studies Association of Australia (2015–7).

Yoshio Sugimoto is Emeritus Professor at La Trobe University.

About the Series

Routledge Contemporary Japan Series

The aim of this series is to publish original, high-quality work by both new and established scholars on all aspects of contemporary Japan.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / Asian American Studies
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies