Culture and Power in The Anthropology of Japan

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Though Japan anthropology since the 1970s has been characterized as outside mainstream anthropological currents, recent work reflects broader disciplinary debates about the relation between culture and power. The four books under review, spanning the archaeology, history, ethnography, and political science of Japan, illustrate different ways of synthesizing cultural and political perspectives. Yet, to varying degrees, they all move beyond an undifferentiated, ahistorical, and depoliticized view of culture to embrace complexity, variability, conflict, and change. In so doing, they raise important questions about knowledge construction across the subfields of anthropology and its uneasy relationship with nationalist and essentialist discourses. © 2011 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

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