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Tropics of Savagery

The Culture of Japanese Empire in Comparative Frame

Robert Tierney

Publication Year: 2010

Tropics of Savagery is an incisive and provocative study of the figures and tropes of "savagery" in Japanese colonial culture. Through a rigorous analysis of literary works, ethnographic studies, and a variety of other discourses, Robert Thomas Tierney demonstrates how imperial Japan constructed its own identity in relation both to the West and to the people it colonized. By examining the representations of Taiwanese aborigines and indigenous Micronesians in the works of prominent writers, he shows that the trope of the savage underwent several metamorphoses over the course of Japan's colonial period--violent headhunter to be subjugated, ethnographic other to be studied, happy primitive to be exoticized, and hybrid colonial subject to be assimilated.

Published by: University of California Press

Series: Asia Pacific Modern


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pp. 1-3


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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-x

...A work of scholarship is inevitably a collaborative endeavor; here, I would like to acknowledge the people who made the most significant contributions tomy research over the past decade. I am most indebted to Jim Reichert, my dissertation adviser at Stanford University, who was a wonderful mentor throughout my graduate studies. I would also like to thank Peter Duus and Miyako Inoue, who challenged me with the broader...

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pp. 1-37

...the title plays on the dualmeaning of theword “tropics” to refer to two related aspects of Japanese imperialism. On the one hand, Japan ruled over colonies situated in the “tropics,” although this fact has not seemed especially important to most historians of the Japanese empire. On the other, Japan exercised domination over its colonies through the deployment of “tropes,” that is, figures of speech, as well as throughmilitary conquest, political control, and economic exploitation.As Nicholas...

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1. From Taming Savages to Going Native: Self and Other on the Taiwan Aboriginal Frontier

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pp. 38-77

...It is commonly asserted that Japan acquired its major colonies by defeating China and Russia in twomajor international wars thatwere fought on overseas battlefields. The fact that colonial wars played an essential role in the formation of Japan’s empire is less well known...

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2. Ethnography and Literature: Sato Haruo’s Colonial Journey to Taiwan

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pp. 78-109

...multinational group hired by the Meiji regime to teach in the nation’s new educational institutions and to advise the government, first introduced this science of “savages” to the Japanese. Just as Japanese scholars would later study the racial origins of colonized peoples in the Japanese empire, theseWestern academics initiated research into the origins of the Japanese.Applying to the Japanese islands the model...

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3. The Adventures of Momotaro in the South Seas: Folklore, Colonial Policy, Parody

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pp. 110-146

...an area long dominated by Western powers. The early twentieth century was the key turning point in the development of this expansionist discourse. Fromthis time on, the goal shifted from the development of trade ties with the Pacific region to a more aggressive drive to increase the territory of the nation by conquest and foreign settlement. During the...

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4. The Colonial Eyeglasses of Nakajima Atsushi

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pp. 147-181

...The metaphor of “Western-tinted eyeglasses” highlights an important element in Japan’s mimicry of Western colonialism. Japan’s modernization was not simply the mimesis of Western sociopolitical, economic, or cultural models but also the appropriation ofWestern ways of viewing the world. These ways of viewing, which in the West date back to the “discovery” of America by European explorers, were...

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Conclusion: Cannibalism in Postwar Literature

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pp. 182-198

...In this book, I have brought to light several works on the theme of savagery from early twentieth-century Japanese literature, works which have generally been neglected in previous scholarship.By closely attending to this theme, I have demonstrated that Japanese writers during the colonial period created elaborate figurations of the savage and of the South, which changed over time in tandemwith changes in the...


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pp. 199-248

Glossary of Japanese Terms

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pp. 249-254


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pp. 255-286


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pp. 287-308

E-ISBN-13: 9780520947665
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520265783

Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: Asia Pacific Modern