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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Andrea G. Arai
JSIS A 449
Seattle Campus

Anthropology of Modern Japan

Examines the problem of modernity in Japan since the late nineteenth century, with emphasis on contemporary Japan. Critically addresses previous anthropological work concerning patterns of Japanese "culture." Particular focus on the influence of modern forms of power, media, and exchange in the construction of present-day Japan. Offered: jointly with ANTH 443.

Class description

The Anthropology of Modern Japan course familiarizes students with anthropological thinking and writing on Japan, in particular from the postwar period on. This anthropological thinking involves learning about the context and background of the emergence of the anthropological concepts of culture and difference, their applications to Japan, the ethnographic approach and method, and background in thinking about modernity and the modern nation-state. We focus on postwar anthropological writing on Japan, beginning with Ruth Benedict’s seminal Chrysanthemum and the Sword, carefully considering the context of its writing, the “culture at a distance” approach and more. We then explore the transformations in the anthropological approach to writing and research on Japan in the late 20th century. The course introduces students to the range of topics and concerns on which anthropologists of Japan have focused, providing them with new ways to view everyday life and social and cultural ideologies, institutions and organizations in Japan. The course provides students with a strong foundation in the anthropology of Japan, equipping them with the theoretical insights, methodological understandings and intellectual history they need to benefit from the more specialized Japan anthropology courses that follow. This course also provides direction for undergraduate and graduate research projects and papers.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

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Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Andrea G. Arai
Date: 05/06/2012