Japan Studies and the American Anthropology of the Self


Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowships


East Asian Studies


Until Japan became a major economic power after World War II, it was easy to imagine that modern nations should all look like the United States and Europe. The rise of Japan challenged all that, but often in surprising ways. Postwar Japan anthropology rose up as a key site in the anthropology of the self, prompting a rethinking of Western notions of self among American anthropologists who wished to denaturalize enlightenment notions of the individual as inherently at odds with the social collectivity. This project focuses on the intellectual exchange between Japanese and American intellectuals in establishing the anthropology of Japan, exploring how this traffic in ideas shaped the postwar project of denaturalizing enlightenment views.