Journal Article Translating and Transforming ‘Race’: Early Meiji Period Textbooks

Takezawa, Yasuko

35 ( 1 )  , pp.5 - 21 , 2015-03-25 , Taylor & Francis
Although it is an almost established understanding in European and North American literature that race is a social construct, the general academic and social discourses surrounding race in Japan remain outside this model. This can be traced back to school textbooks and geography books in the early Meiji period, after these concepts and words were translated and introduced from Europe and the United States. This article will examine passages related to race in textbooks from the first half of the Meiji period, in order to explore the continuities and discontinuities in the state of knowledge production surrounding race and racial discrimination in contemporary Japan. Investigating the usage of words in educational practice allows us to see how ‘race’ was a term that was located in a position different from that of other words, and how the Japanese transformed their racial position in relation to others.

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