Author:Yumiko Tokita-Tanabe (Osaka University)
Paper short abstract:
This paper examines the historical transformation of anthropological studies on South Asia by Japanese researchers and considers how they reflect agendas relevant to Japanese society of the time.
Paper long abstract:
This paper aims to examine the historical transformation of anthropological and sociological studies on South Asia by Japanese researchers and consider how the various studies reflected agendas relevant to Japanese society at those particular times. Post World War II scholarship based on fieldwork in South Asia began in the 1950s. Investigations into societies and cultures of South Asia were part of a positive re-evaluation of Asia in Japan. As Japan struggled to rebuild the nation and introduce democracy in the post-war years, India's achievement of national independence from colonialism and formation of modern democratic institutions were seen as shining examples by many intellectuals. At the same time, anthropologists and archaeologists were attracted to countries in South Asia as places where ancient civilizations had thrived. Such scholars placed emphasis on the lives of people in local societies and regional histories longue durée that transcend the creation and workings of modern nation states. In today's context of globalization, Japanese researchers on South Asia are discovering an alternative model of globalization and modernization that allows space for diversity and heterogeneity. Japan which is considered to be a relatively homogenous nation is currently undergoing a rapid change into a more multicultural country in the course of globalization. Scholars from various disciplines in the social sciences and humanities are keen to construct models of cultural coexistence. Anthropological studies of South Asia in Japan is also globalizing and becoming more cross-disciplinary reflecting the needs of our time.
Fifty years of anthropological associations: reflections on anthropologies and nations (IAA/JASCA joint panel)