Chapter

Civilization and Enlightenment

David L. Howell

in Geographies of Identity in Nineteenth-Century Japan

Published by University of California Press

Published in print July 2005 | ISBN: 9780520240858
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520930872 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520240858.003.0007
Civilization and Enlightenment

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This chapter explores the way Tokugawa notions of civilization and barbarism were translated into a new idiom in the years immediately following the Meiji Restoration. There is a tendency to see civilization and enlightenment discourse as a stark departure from the ideas and institutions of the Tokugawa period. Three critical differences distinguished the early modern (ka versus i) and modern (bunmei versus yaban) conceptions of civilization and barbarism. The introduction of Meiji standards of civilization and enlightenment entailed a synchronous process of expanding the notion of civilization so that it gradually penetrated into the core of everyday life, while linking barbarism to the urban poor and others whose livelihoods were marked as unsettled. The locus of agency was a central feature of the transformation of civilization across the divide of the Meiji Restoration.

Keywords: civilization; barbarism; Tokugawa; Meiji Restoration; enlightenment

Chapter.  7617 words. 

Subjects: Asian History

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