Mythology and Archaeology in Modern Japan, Lecture, Jun’ Ichi Isomae, Associate Professor at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies “Nichibunken”, Kyoto, Japan (click on the grey area to download and read the PowerPoint presentation)
“The History of Japanese archeology started in 1877 when Edward S. Morse, an American scholar of Tokyo Imperial University, excavated a shell mound in the Omori area of Tokyo. His work was followed by Japanese scholars in the department of anthropology of Tokyo Imperial University who endeavored to shed light on the origin of the Japanese race, while the government was attempting to establish the modern Japanese nation state. In such a situation Japanese archeology was closely connected with the political problem of national identity, in particular Japanese mythology centering on the history of Japanese Imperial family, the Kojiki and Nihonshoki written at the beginning of 8th century. At this time Japanese archeology was thrust into the situation struggling with the literal records of Japanese mythology. Japanese archeology played an ambivalent role in regards to the authority of Japanese mythology, which insisted on its two-sided historical literalism: one, to resist the mythological authority, and two, substantiate its historicity. In my presentation, through a survey of the history of archeology in modern Japan in relation of the authorized Japanese mythology, I intend to explore the process of how Japanese established their national identity from the mid 19th century to the end of World War II. The performative act of historical narration of our own past always evokes a sense of nostalgia which aspires to project the unfamiliar with a sense of famiriarity. I believe this is the core motivation as to why we look upon the past as “our own”.”
The lecture was given on March 8th, 2008 at the Cultural Center of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens in the “Kostis Palamas” Conference Room. It was an initiative of Professor of Prehistoric and Environmental Archaeology Lilian Karali under the auspices of the Department of Archaeology and History of Art of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.
Mythology and Archaeology in Modern Japan August 13, 2008
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