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Native Anthropology
The Japanese Challenge to Western
Academic Hegemony
by Takami Kuwayama

The central theme of this book is the position of ‘natives’ in what the author calls the world system of anthropology. Since anthropology developed in the west as a science of primitive people under colonial rule, scholars were able to gather ethnographic data without much restraint and to process them into books and articles without considering seriously how the people they had described would respond. The situation has changed dramatically in postcolonial times. Not only do the natives read today what has been written about them, they have also learned to write about their own culture from their own perspective. Their discourse has often clashed with that of outsiders, especially researchers from the west. A major task in contemporary anthropology, then, is the creation of dialogic space between the describer and the described, as well as among all the people concerned with the culture studied, without privileging one kind of discourse over another.

Seen globally, Japan is placed on the periphery of the academic world system. The Japanese resemble anthropologists’ natives because they have long been objects of representation, but their voices are seldom heard at the center. The frequent neglect of Japanese scholarship on Japan among Japanologists in the Anglophone community attests to this point. The major objective in this book is to analyze this situation by showing how anthropological knowledge is produced, disseminated, and consumed on a global scale. The book consists of six chapters. Four of them have been published as journal articles in English or Japanese, and the other two chapters are new. Together, they show the power dynamics involved in the structure of anthropological knowledge. The book concludes with concrete suggestions about how to create a forum of dialogue open to all scholars from around the world.

Natives as dialogic partners
Native anthropologists
The world system of anthropology
Global and national folkloristics
Ethnographic reading in reverse
Representations of Japan in American textbooks

Published by Trans Pacific Press
Published 2004, 184 pp.
ISBN 1 876843 82 9, hardback, £48.00
ISBN 1 876843 76 4, paperback, £19.99