Walter Benjamin observed that it is precisely the modern which conjures up prehistory. From Yanagita’s ‘mountain people’ to Umehara’s ‘Jōmon civilisation’, Japan has been an especially resonant site of prehistories imagined in response to modernity. Conjuring Up Prehistory: Landscape and the Archaic in Japanese Nationalism looks at how archaeology and landscapes of the archaic have been used in Japanese nationalism since the early twentieth century, focusing on the writings of cultural historian Tetsurō Watsuji, philosopher Takeshi Umehara and environmental archaeologist Yoshinori Yasuda. It is argued that the Japanese nationalist project has been mirrored by the continuing influence of broader Romantic ideas in Japanese archaeology, especially in Jōmon studies.
About the Author
Mark J. Hudson is a researcher in the Department of Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena, Germany. He previously taught archaeology in Japan for more than 20 years and was Professor at the University of West Kyushu and the Mt. Fuji World Heritage Centre. His previous publications include Ruins of Identity: Ethnogenesis in the Japanese Islands (Hawaii UP, 1999) and, as co-editor, Volume 1 of the Cambridge World History of Violence (CUP, 2020).
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