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Discourses of the Vanishing

Modernity, Phantasm, Japan

Japan today is haunted by the ghosts its spectacular modernity has generated. Deep anxieties about the potential loss of national identity and continuity disturb many in Japan, despite widespread insistence that it has remained culturally intact. In this provocative conjoining of ethnography, history, and cultural criticism, Marilyn Ivy discloses these anxieties—and the attempts to contain them—as she tracks what she calls the vanishing: marginalized events, sites, and cultural practices suspended at moments of impending disappearance.

Ivy shows how a fascination with cultural margins accompanied the emergence of Japan as a modern nation-state. This fascination culminated in the early twentieth-century establishment of Japanese folklore studies and its attempts to record the spectral, sometimes violent, narratives of those margins. She then traces the obsession with the vanishing through a range of contemporary reconfigurations: efforts by remote communities to promote themselves as nostalgic sites of authenticity, storytelling practices as signs of premodern presence, mass travel campaigns, recallings of the dead by blind mediums, and itinerant, kabuki-inspired populist theater.

277 pages | 12 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 1995

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

Asian Studies: East Asia

Culture Studies

History: Asian History

Table of Contents

1: National-Cultural Phantasms and Modernity’s Losses
2: Itineraries of Knowledge: Trans-figuring Japan
Travels of the Nation-Culture
Discovering "Myself"
Exotic Japan
The Neo-Japonesque
Re: New Japanology
3: Ghastly Insufficiencies: Tono Monogatari and the Origins of Nativist
Civilization and Its Remainders
The Distance between Speech and Writing
The Modern Uncanny
Undecidable Authorities
An Originary Discipline
4: Narrative Returns, Uncanny Topographies
The Home Away from Home
Museum’d Utopias
Memorable Ruins
Textual Recursions
Reminders of the Archaic
5: Ghostly Epiphanies: Recalling the Dead on Mount Osore
Memorialization and Its Others
Boundaries of Excess: Markings, Offerings, Garbage
Ghosts in the Machine
Dividing the Voice
Trance Effects: Mourning and Predictions
Dialect and Transgression
6: Theatrical Crossings, Capitalist Dreams
Low-Budget Kabuki and Its Promises
The Grand Show
Doubled Crimes, Gendered Travesties
Counternarrative and Figurality
Powers of Attraction
Ephemeral Gifts
Afterwords on Repetition and Redemption


Assoc of American University Presses: Hiromi Arisawa Memorial Award

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