"Meiji Japan and the 'Long-Nineteenth Century'"

Thu November 1st 2018, 4:30 - 6:00pm
Event Sponsor
Center for East Asian Studies; Hoover Institution
Stauffer Auditorium, Hoover Institution (next to Hoover Tower)
Admission Information

Free and open to the public.  RSVP required.  RSVP here by October 25, 2018.

"Meiji Japan and the 'Long-Nineteenth Century'"

Speaker: Mark Ravina, Professor, Department of History, Emory University

Free and open to the public.  RSVP required.  RSVP here by October 25, 2018.
The Hoover Institution Library & Archives and Center for East Asian Studies,
In celebration of the CEAS 50th anniversary, Hoover’s 100th anniversary, and the 150th anniversary of the Meiji Restoration,
Will host a talk by Mark Ravina, Professor, Department of History, Emory University:
"Meiji Japan and the 'Long-Nineteenth Century'"
With opening remarks by Tomochika Uyama, Consul General of Japan, San Francisco
About the talk:
The Meiji Restoration transformed Japan, abolishing not only the old regime, but also many of the supporting social and political structures, such as hereditary class distinctions and samurai privileges. Because many Meiji reforms were based on the emulation of Western “best practice,” the Restoration has commonly been discussed in terms of “modernization,” “modernity,” and “Westernization.” But these metanarratives commonly rely on problematic dichotomies between “tradition” and “modernity” and between “Japanese” and “Western.” Those contrasts are unhelpful because the Meiji Restoration celebrated both Japanese distinctiveness and Western norms. The Meiji era witnessed both a Japanese “invention of tradition” and the adoption of modern, Western institutions. This duality is less surprising if we consider the Restoration in a global context, as a nationalist revolution. A common tenet of nineteenth-century nationalism was that governments were legitimized through their unique historical and cultural ties to their people. Monarchs could be above their people, but they needed to be of their people. Nationalist movements were thus similar in their claims to uniqueness, and it was thus “modern” and “Western” to celebrate the Japanese emperor’s unique and ancient ties to his people.