Anthropology and Colonialism

Review: Paul Barclay on new workshop proceedings

Jan van Bremen and Akitoshi Shimizu, eds, Anthropology and Colonialism in Asia and Oceania. Grant Evans, general editor. Anthropology of Asia Series. Richmond Surrey, U.K: Curzon Press, 1999. xi, 409 pages. $55.00 (cloth), ISBN 0700706046.

Reviewed by Paul Barclay, Department of History, Lafayette College.
Published by H-Asia (May, 2000).

The controversy surrounding anthropology's relationship to "the West's" conquest and exploitation of "the rest" has generated a substantial body of interdisciplinary scholarship over the past three decades. The question of whether anthropology is "the bastard of colonialism" or "the legitimate offspring of the Enlightenment" has been central to these inquiries, and is one of the over-arching themes of this ambitious volume's fourteen chapters. Editors Jan van Bremen and Shimizu Akitoshi promise to "bring to light an abundance of new data on colonial anthropology in Asia and Oceania (1)." Much of these new data are drawn from Japan's early twentieth-century empire, an area scholars have been slow to incorporate into comparative studies of colonialism. Dedicating the "lion's share" of the collection to "Greater Japan" opens up opportunities to globalize, or de-provincialize, prevailing Eurocentric biases in this area of research. Considering the paucity of English-language scholarship on Japanese colonialism's intellectual and cultural manifestations, and the importance of this subject to East Asian history, the eight articles concerning Japanese colonial anthropology would have been sufficient to warrant publication of this volume. To "give the collection more historical and comparative depth," several non-Japanese case studies are also included--three articles on Dutch anthropology in Southeast Asia, as well as chapters on British ethnology in India, Chinese anthropology in Taiwan, a Danish-German expedition to Yemen, German ethnography in Siberia, and American anthropology in Japan.

This collection originated at the workshop "Colonial Anthropology in East and South-East Asia: A Comparative View," held at the University of Leiden, 18-20 May, 1995. The proceedings are organized into three main sections: "Anthropology in Colonial Contexts: Historical and Comparative Perspectives;" (four chapters) "Japanese Anthropology in Colonial Contexts: East Asia, South-East Asia and Oceania;" (seven chapters) and "Dutch Anthropology in Colonial Contexts: South-East Asia" (three chapters). Shimizu's and van Bremen's succinct introduction, plus a thoughtful and extensive afterword by Eyal Ben-Ari brings the total to sixteen contributions. Though the topics should be of interest to all students of imperialism and especially Japanese colonial rule, the book is aimed primarily at anthropologists, and assumes familiarity with ongoing debates and landmark texts in the discipline. Non-anthropologists who make this 400-plus page journey will find themselves considerably enriched and in possession of an excellent guide to the secondary literature, not to mention a list of primary sources for further research at this fascinating crossroads of anthropology, history, and cultural studies.

Part One features three detailed and well-documented studies of anthropology on the colonial peripheries of Russia, Japan and England in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In chapters one through three, Han F. Vermeulen, Margarita Winkel and Peter Pels provide a nuanced picture of imperial ethnography, folklore studies, and ethnology on the eve of Europe's and Japan's late nineteenth century burst of territorial expansion.

Vermeulen's contribution, "Anthropology in Colonial Contexts: The Second Kamchatka Expedition (1733-1743) and the Danish-German Arabia Expedition (1761-1767)," demonstrates the impact of a tsar-sponsored scientific mission to Siberia upon European intellectual history. The second Kamchatka expedition was the "largest research expedition ever sent out" of St. Petersburg. It embarked in 1733 "accompanied by draughtsmen, surveyors, craftsmen, scribes, servants and troops of Cossacks (20)." In their travels through Siberia, the expedition's philologists and historians, all Germans, collected word lists, material artifacts, and oral histories among the local peoples of Russia's Orient. The historical significance of the resulting reports was their conceptualization of Siberia's inhabitants as a plurality of peoples, each having a distinct history and language, much like Herderian nations.

According to Vermeulen, this view of diversity contrasted sharply with an earlier Muscovite sensibility, one that registered human difference by religious instead of ethnic affiliation. In this way, the science of "Völker-Beschreibung" (description of peoples) emerged. The expedition's journals were widely circulated and became seminal texts in the history of anthropology. Vermeulen concludes that:

"These data suggest that ethnography as Völker-Beschreibung came forth from the colonial practice of German scholars working in the Russian empire (1733-1767) ... and was then generalised into Völkerkunde or ethnologia in the academic centres of Goettingen and Vienna (1771-83) ... As a result, ethnography in colonial Russia flowered early and abundantly, to such an extent that the institutionalisation of the discipline in Russia occurred much earlier than in western Europe or the USA ... At the Russian Academy of Sciences ... a chair in etnografiya was established as early as 1837 ... (29)."

Vermeulen writes that "the existence of a large number of cultural groups in Siberia led to the emergence of ... Völker-Beschreibung (13)" and that these cultural groups "were actively studied in order (first) to describe them, and (second) to be able to control and tax them (27)." As it turns out, the cultural diversity of the Siberians themselves, the administrative goals of the imperial sponsor, the logistical support rendered by the military, and the intellectual equipment of the investigators all played their part in the production of "a large variety of sources we still regard as ethnographically useful (27)." Vermeulen emphasizes the importance of Western European intellectual traditions among this variety of impulses by recourse to the comparative method.

Like the second Kamchatka expedition, a late-eighteenth-century (1761-1767) Danish-German expedition to Yemen was "well prepared and interdisciplinary, had international membership, and [was] guided by specific instructions as well as questionnaires (13)." To show that Baconian and Linnean concepts were key to the development of ethnography, Vermeulen argues that the respective intellectual heritages of the Kamchatka and Yemen exploration teams made all of the difference. During the Danish-German expedition to Yemen, the team's experts in philology, history, and the languages of the region met their deaths en route to the expedition's goal. The sole survivor and author of the team's report was mathematician Carsten Niebuhr, whose "observations did not lead to the emergence of ethnographia." Instead, "Niebuhr saw the Arabian people as making up 'one nation,' speaking various dialects (14)."

According to Vermeulen, the science of ethnography was institutionalized in Swabia (partly as a result of the Kamchatka expeditions) while Niebuhr was in the field, so his report could not be informed by its categories. But Vermeulen also leaves open the possibility that had the philologistsand historians survived the trip, reports closer to the Kamchatka journals might have emerged. Another factor is thrown in: Niebuhr and his party were in Ottoman territory, traveling under the protection of a Turkish suzerain who considered all of his peoples one nation united under Islam, a notion not conducive to a pluralistic rendering of the Bedouin. Finally, the expedition to Yemen sought linguistic materials to aid Biblical exegesis (25), and had no relation to Danish or German commercial or political interests in the region; it was a mission whose goals could not have been more different than the one sponsored by Peter the Great's successors in Moscow.

On the surface, Vermeulen's comparative historical analysis was brilliantly conceived. But as his exposition proceeds, one discovers that there were so many differences between the second Kamchatka and the Danish-German Arabian expeditions that it is impossible to isolate any particular variable as being responsible for the different outcomes. That Vermeulen himself supplies enough factual information and conjecture to undermine his own thesis is admirable, but I wondered if the second case study really shed any light upon the larger themes in the volume or even upon the Kamchatka expedition itself. It also would have helped this reader if Vermeulen had illustrated the difference between ethnography and other forms of travel writing with examples of pre-Völker-Beschreibung and "customs and manners" taxonomies alongside examples of early-modern ethnographic taxonomies.

In the final analysis, Vermeulen approvingly quotes Talal Asad's now classic formulation: "the process of European global power has been central to the anthropological task of recording and analyzing (29)." While Asad asserted that the converse was not true, i.e., that anthropology had little impact upon actual colonial administration, Vermeulen leaves open the possibility that the "Russian authorities at the Department of Siberian Affairs and the Senate of the Academy of Sciences" made use of this data, and calls for further research into this area (29).

Like Vermeulen's essay, Margarita Winkel's "Academic Traditions, Urban Dynamics, and Colonial Threat: The Rise of Ethnography in Early Modern Japan" documents a vibrant early-modern anthropological tradition. Winkel's essay does not focus on particular expeditions or careers, nor even colonial settings per se, but is a general survey of pre-Meiji "customs and manners" writing and folklore studies. Winkel writes:

"Although it lacked a specific term, early Japanese ethnography was not a coincidence of unrelated investigations by otherwise unconnected scholars ... Their research and debates formed the basis of a new field of study: the conscious scholarly study of manners and customs of socially, historically and geographically disparate groups. They investigated indigenous rural and urban traditions as well as facts about peoples of more remote areas (40)."

Winkel connects the development of Japanese ethnography to several well-known features of the Tokugawa period (1600-1868): the national seclusion policy, the culture of travel and pilgrimages, urban middle-brow literary and dramaturgic forms, and the proliferation of academies and literacy. Scholarly interest in Japanese "customs and manners" and the advent of their systematic and careful study had many sources. Government academies encouraged the study of local products (bussangaku), which fomented an empirical spirit of observation and the cataloging of regional diversity. Japanese Confucianism's turn to evidential scholarship (Ch. kaosheng, J. kosho) away from Neo-Confucianism augmented this tendency, and the assaults of the rangakusha (Dutch-Studies scholars) further discredited this "empty science." Motoori Norinaga's (1730-1801) researches into the Japanese spirit elevated the study of rural folkways to a search for "survivals" from the Age of the Gods and dignified "customs and manners" research for National Learning scholars. Private academies of all stripes competed for students in a buyer's market, which led to eclectic approaches to research and teaching. Winkel argues that this marketplace of ideas helped new fields like ethnography gain an institutional foothold in Japan. By the early nineteenth century, "interest in gathering ethnographic information was not restricted to one group or school; contemporary popular culture had become a common field of interest among leading intellectuals (57)."

Around 1813, Ishihara Masaakira and Yashiro Hirokata compiled a 131-item questionnaire that "solicited information on contemporary local customs relating to calendric customs, weddings, funerals, house-raising celebrations, etc. (56)." This booklet was circulated to like-minded scholars throughout Japan--twenty sets of responses are extant. Winkel wonders why late nineteenth century Japanese anthropologists adopted Western methodologies wholesale when their own native tradition was of comparable sophistication and rigor (58). One can conclude from Winkel's essay that Tokugawa Japan contained a population with sufficient literacy, variety, empirical-mindedness, and mobility to develop a rich domestic ethnographic tradition.

In response to Russian merchant landings in the "northern territories," the bakufu's senior councilor Tanuma Okitsugu sent a team to survey the Kuriles, Hokkaido, and Karafuto (Sakhalin) in 1785-86. Among the participants was Mogami Tokunai (1754-1836), who spent two years in the north, learned to communicate with the Ainu in their languages, and wrote a description of them that circulated world-wide via Philipp Franz von Siebold's then authoritative Nippon. Mamiya Rinzo, also under Tokugawa employ, discovered that Sakhalin was indeed an island and not a peninsula, and left ethnographic descriptions of peoples inhabiting Manchuria.

Winkel writes that these northern expeditions were not given explicit instructions to gather ethnographic information. Rather, the government was more interested in geography and geology. Ethnography was a sideline interest of explorers like Mogami and Mamiya. The main Tokugawa developments that contributed to ethnography were those intellectual trends in Confucian, Dutch, and National studies which pushed scholars towards an empirical outlook and made the study of rural and working-class culture respectable and important. Winkel concludes that linkages between early-modern anthropology in Japan and colonialism were quite weak.

The assertion that Meiji anthropologists adopted Western methods wholesale is perhaps too sweeping at this stage of research on the subject. There may be more connections between the men and activities charted by Winkel and twentieth-century Japanese empire than Winkel's article lets on. One of Japan's most prolific colonial ethnographers, student of Taiwanese society Ino Kanori, was keenly and publicly aware of his debts to Mogami and Mamiya. Like his Tokugawa predecessors, Ino was eclectic, and his career combined Western methods with more time-tested Japanese traditions in folklore studies. The even more famous Torii Ryuzo, who did research throughout the Japanese empire, was a proponent of a holistic anthropology reminiscent of the mix of textual exegesis, material-culture studies and oral tradition that Winkel has documented for the Edo period. [1]

That eastward expansion out of St. Petersburg and Moscow in the eighteenth century had a decisive impact upon the development of Russian, German, and Japanese ethnographic traditions is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, one of the purposes of this volume is to complicate a story too preoccupied with the meta-narrative of Western European maritime exploration and colonial conquest. Here we have a contemporary and analogous process taking place overland, on the Eurasian land mass. Analogous but not fortuitous; surely the notorious Europhile Peter the Great did not set Russia on the course which landed its forward agents in the Kuriles in the 1780s for reasons unconnected to Western European expansion into Africa, the Americas, and Asia. A few paragraphs of global political economic background might have strengthened the collective impact of Vermeulen's and Winkel's articles on the volume's thesis considerably. Winkel does note a parallel between movements towards evidential scholarship in East Asia and the "demythologisation of curious facts (59)" in Western European historical writing, but why these two very broad intellectual currents might be related is left for the reader to surmise.

Rounding out this volume's early-modern section is Peter Pels' "From Texts to Bodies: Brian Houghton Hodgson and the Emergence of Ethnology in India." Pels' contribution relates intellectual paradigm shifts to institutions and political economy, while explaining the importance of divisions and conflicts among both observers and observed in colonial India. By focusing attention upon the career and writings of one scholar and the explication of one important historical process, Pels ably investigates the complex interaction of colonialism and anthropology from several angles. Through the career of Hodgson (1800-1894), Pels shows how "in the early 19th-century administration of British India, orientalism was ... superseded by ethnology (66)."

Quite fruitfully, Pels clearly distinguishes "orientalism" from "ethnology" before launching his argument. The former is defined as "a research programme that created the 'oriental' through a search for his ... foundational texts" and the latter as "a description of the Indian population in terms of a physicalist paradigm of 'race' (66)." Pels dates the birth of orientalist scholarship in India to the founding of the Asiatic Society in Calcutta in 1784 by William Jones. By locating the meaning of Hindu or Muslim culture in the translation, exegesis, and commentary of foundational texts, orientalists constructed cultures they revered and admired, but cultures they nonetheless understood as foreign, exotic, and fundamentally non-Western. In political terms, orientalist scholars favored British policies which incorporated Indian languages and traditions into the colony's school curriculums and law codes. Pels characterizes this stance as "conservative relativism ... [a] respect for (textual) tradition [which] nourished a sometimes feudalist and paternalist respect for the uniqueness of cultures and their past (66)."

To unlock the mysteries and lessons of the Laws of Manu, the Vedas, the Upanishads and other key texts, orientalists relied upon native Brahmins, pandits, clerics, and other figures as collaborators. One of the important impetuses and consequences of the transition to ethnology was the elimination of this stratum of local experts.

Differing opinions among the British colonizers about the value of orientalist knowledge was of utmost importance to the showdown between the "orientalist" and "Anglicist" parties in the 1835 debate over how to educate Indian subjects. The former party advocated a system based in Sanskrit, Persian, and Arabic texts and traditions, while the latter saw the whole caboodle as so much "'false history, false astronomy, false medicine' and other 'monstrous superstitions (76).'" Generally speaking, the Anglicists had their way, while during the same period a natural science model of describing subject peoples was gaining currency among colonial officials. As bodily measurements and lexicons replaced foundational texts as dominant clues to understanding natives, most colonialists' notion of the "real India" changed as well. The self-styled national character and legendary past contained in epics and religious texts as interpreted by Indian intellectuals, bards, and religious figures were superseded by the ethnological notion of the "aboriginal" and authentic Indian.

With the "real India" defined as a land of aborigines who had been subject to waves of invasion and exploitation by Aryans and Muslims, it was possible for ethnologically minded administrators to imagine an alliance of interest between victimized aborigines and the British colonial government. It is impossible to do justice to all of the interesting and relevant historical trajectories compacted into Pels' illuminating chapter. Discussions of the birth of statistics, the natural sciences as a model for description, and the interplay between academics in London and India are clearly presented in Pels' article. I would like to offer one point for global comparison, one suggested by Frank Jenista in his study of U.S. colonial rule in heavily "anthropologicized" Ifugao sub-province, Philippines.

Jenista attributed what he perceived to be the mutual respect and goodwill that obtained between Americans and Ifugaos to their common enmity to lowland Catholic Filipinos. Extrapolating from that example, Jenista argued that Western colonial agents from Malaysia to Vietnam, whether British, French, American, or Dutch, experienced the same camaraderie with highland aborigines and aversion to lowland Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and Confucians. [2] All of these lowland civilizations were "orientalized" in Pels's sense of the word. It was these highland groups that drew the most attention from colonial ethnographers, as did "aborigines" in India. If we consider the more topical case of Japanese colonialism in Taiwan, where the non-Han mountain peoples received the bulk of anthropological attention, a pattern emerges, one explained well by Pels' study of India. Namely, that the invocation of aboriginality and authenticity for societies outside of the Big Traditions of colonized Asia dovetailed nicely with the notion that European and Japanese imperial regimes constituted only the most recent in a series of conquerors. Ethnology as defined by Pels was a colonial resource for portraying textually complex, and often politically inconvenient, indigenous (oriental) systems of land tenure, jurisprudence, and self-definition as "artificial" overlays obscuring and oppressing the real owners of the territory in question.

Pels' distinction between orientalist and ethnological colonial projects might have illuminated Vermeulen's article, where clearly the Danish-German expedition to Yemen represented the former, while the Kamchatka expedition came nearer the latter.

Fred Y. L. Chiu's "Nationalist Anthropology in Taiwan 1945-1996--A Reflexive Survey" concludes Part One with an indictment of late twentieth-century anthropology in Taiwan. Between the late 1940s and the 1970s, Taiwanese academic anthropology reproduced a research program, discourse on aborigines, and set of evaluative criteria for "good ethnography" created by Japanese colonial anthropologists between 1895 and 1945. One of Chiu's many points is that purportedly post-colonial Taiwan is anything but that for the non-Han population. In colorful language, Chiu excoriates Taiwanese anthropologists "whose complacency was based on nothing but a carrot hanging over their necks as being accomplices of the chauvinists, the powerful (103)." These Han chauvinists stand accused, in this chapter, of being detached, scholarly and politically uncommitted while the Taiwanese government deprived the people they studied of their basic human rights. The heroes of this chapter are anthropologists who are politically committed to good causes and indigenous activists. The recent revival of interest in the Japanese ethnological record which has brought about new translations of old colonial documents and facsimile reprint editions comes in for a special roasting:

"Sentimentality and eagerness in arresting a historical memory that never existed were conspicuously displayed in appraisals [of these documents] volunteered by various academicians ... [This] made it evident that the politics involved were further degenerated, from uncritical self-orientalisation deteriorating into outright self-stigmatisation and self-victimisation. They are sub-statists par excellence. It has been so not because these interlocutors are so lazy as to plagiarise their colonisers [sic] narrative in constituting their pastiche, but because they escape from histories as well as shy away from the lebenswelt resistances of their subaltern women's/men's colonised past (105)."

Chiu's article is more than just praise-and-blame activism; he provides interesting summaries of trends in Taiwanese anthropological research and evidence of how deeply politicized the field has become for some. For another view, a recent essay by Hsieh Shih-chung, "On Three Definitions of Han Ren: Images of the Majority People in Taiwan," is highly recommended. [3]

Co-editor Shimizu Akitoshi's "Colonialism and the Development of Modern Anthropology in Japan" introduces the book's longest section, Part Two, "Japanese Anthropology in Colonial Contexts: East Asia, South-East Asia and Oceania." Shimizu opens this section with a statement that is pertinent to any study of Japanese colonialism which strives to rise above the confines of national narrative:

"Postmodern critiques of anthropology used to define it as a specifically Western discipline that constructed hegemonic representations of colonial others in the non-West. This definition is based on a series of parallel dichotomies: the West versus the non-West, the power versus the powerless, and the observer (anthropologist) versus the observed. The set of ideas supporting the Western definition of anthropology logically excludes any possibility of colonialist anthropology in Japan (115)."

If we accept Shimizu's premise, one confirmed by a look at any recent literature review or synthetic treatment of global imperialism, then Part Two of this volume needs only to begin filling in the huge empirical gaps in the English-language literature to enrich the comparative study of colonialism. Three of Part Two's chapters are primarily dedicated to this task, providing basic surveys of the key figures, texts, and developments for their respective areas: Patrick Beillevaire on folklore studies and ethnology in Ryukyu and Okinawa (chapter 6); Boudewijn Walraven on ethnology in colonial Korea (chapter 8); and Katsumi Nakao on colonial policy and anthropology in Manchuria (chapter 9). Shimizu's chapter is the book's longest by far--it is nothing less than a historical overview of Japanese anthropology, informed by a comparison to the British case, which Shimizu uses as a proxy for Western anthropology to isolate what is unique about Japan's experience.

Shimizu writes that British anthropology can be characterized by three major historical tendencies: movement from the study of race to culture; a shift from humanity in general as a field of study to "savages" in the colonies; and, the specialization of anthropology as a separate branch of academic inquiry. The striking difference for Japanese anthropological history is that studies of Japanese peoples themselves have predominated. Also in a comparative vein, Shimizu takes up the relationship between metropolitan and colonial anthropology, recounting the familiar division of labor between investigators on the spot, once called "amateur ethnographers," and theorists in the metropole, once called "armchair anthropologists." In the Japanese case, this division was not as pronounced as in the early days of British anthropology. One reason for this was that early organized anthropology in Japan was preoccupied with questions of national origin and the related question of the Ainu's historical identity. Therefore, field sites were close by, so even Japan's premier candidate for armchair status, the urbane organizer/proselytizer Tsuboi Shogoro, relied on his own observations to write articles. But even as the empire grew in geographic variety, and reports were published from throughout, no figure comparable to a Frazier, Radcliffe-Brown or Tylor emerged in Tokyo to synthesize and take credit for the work of the Japanese colonial anthropologists in Micronesia, Taiwan, Manchuria, and elsewhere. Tsuboi died in 1913, and his successor as chair of anthropology at Tokyo University, Torii Ryuzo, remained committed to conducting his own field surveys and showed little inclination to build hierarchical, centripetal academic structures.

Another point for comparison with Britain is the variety to be found within the category "colonial anthropology" over the course of the twentieth century. Here, Shimizu juxtaposes Malinowski's call for applied anthropology and a research agenda including studies of acculturation, change over time, interaction with outsiders, and social adjustment in colonial settings with Radcliffe-Brown's structural functionalism, which in many ways revived salvage anthropology in its search for ideal-typical ceremonies and institutions. Shimizu finds it ironic that Malinowski's anthropological program is less offensive to post-colonial minded observers than Radcliffe-Brown's superficially non-politicized anthropology, despite the forthrightly complicit nature of applied anthropology and the claimed neutrality of structural functionalism. The reasons for this are to be seen in Fred Chiu's chapter on Taiwanese anthropology, where structural functionalists like Mabuchi Toichi are taken to task for portraying Taiwan Aborigines as timeless cultures living in equilibrium, in settings devoid of colonial oppressors or the traumatic effects of Japanese relocation programs. Instead of reconstructing imaginary pasts, Malinowski argued that anthropologists should study current problems facing the societies under investigation. Going one further, Chiu argues that anthropologists should become advocates and activists as well.

Shimizu concludes that Japanese colonial anthropology was just as varied and responsive to local circumstances or the personal idiosyncracies of individual investigators as its Western counterpart. He points to "Mabuchi [Toichi] as representative of Taiwan ... oriented towards the static and coherent aspects of 'primitive' societies; Izumi [Seichi] as a representative of Korea [who] approached complex and dynamic socio-cultural phenomena; and Sugiura [Ken'ichi] of Micronesia [who] studied the contemporary states of native societies from a practical point of view (160)." Unlike Western anthropology, which evolved as a science of nationals secure in their political dominance over the observed culture-bearer or specimen, Japanese anthropology was institutionalized during a period when the Treaty Powers threatened Japan and compromised its sovereignty. The first published debate in the discipline was a response to Western anthropological portrayals of stone age humans in Japan as cannibals. In a word, the Japanese were objects of ethnological discourse before they became subjects, and soon turned the tables to study Taiwanese, Koreans, Okinawans, Micronesians, and Chinese as objects. However, as stated earlier, the study of these colonized Asians did not dominate Japanese anthropology during colonial times, but rather studies of the Self were the main topic, and continued to be into the 1970s.

That the relationship between Tokyo-based anthropologists and their rural or working-class Japanese informants may have resembled colonial ones is a possibility not seriously considered in Shimizu's article, nor in Winkel's chapter on early modern Japanese ethnography. Boudewijn Walraven mentions in his study of ethnology in colonial Korea that there was a great deal of continuity between early Meiji official investigations of the "manners and mores of the people" and early Japanese surveys of Korean society (219). Karen Wigen's notion of the peripheries within Japan might have been useful here. Could it be that Japanese ethnology's proclivity to study fellow nationals was no less a science of "otherness" than those traditions which took non-nationals as foci? In what sense might this feature of the national tradition be an index of the social distance elites felt from commoners in Japan from Tokugawa times through the Pacific War?

Timothy Y. Tsu's "Japanese Colonialism and the Investigation of Taiwanese 'Old Customs'" does not deal with anthropology per se, but is a study of the important Provisional Commission for the Investigation of Taiwanese Old Customs. Established in 1901 as a brainchild of Goto Shinpei under the leadership of Okamatsu Santaro, the Provisional Commission ascertained patterns of land ownership and sought to understand Taiwanese systems of inheritance, law, and order to rule Taiwan "scientifically."

According to Tsu, the Okamatsu project was symptomatic of a sea-change in Japanese intellectual approaches to China and the Chinese. During the early Tokugawa period, Chinese learning was pursued as a key to universals, as a system for furthering knowledge about Japan itself and to provide normative methods and values. By the conclusion of the 1894-95 Sino-Japanese War, this reverence had diminished. The modern approach to Chinese studies in Japan became much more anthropological. Now that Japanese were entering into economic and political relations with actual Chinese people, and increasingly from a position of relative power, Japanese interest in daily life, vernacular Chinese, and material culture increased. As colonial agents in Taiwan, Japanese investigators still read old Chinese texts, but now they were read to resolve land-ownership and inheritance disputes. Where once Japanese scholars poured over Yijing, now they combed the countryside for title deeds. In addition, the 100-member-strong Okamatsu team interviewed cultivators and examined property markers by personal inspection.

The parallels here with Peter Pels' discussion of the transition in British India from orientalism to ethnology are striking. Interestingly, Tsu notes that Okamatsu's reports on Taiwanese political organization emphasized social control at the village level, but omitted consideration of the so-called gentry, those known as Mandarins in the West, who mediated relations between the village and the central (Qing) government. Like the anti-orientalist faction in British India, Okamatsu and Goto found the "real Taiwan" in the apolitical, isolated village. In this view, the Japanese government was the successor to a corrupt, negligent, and vaguely illegitimate Qing court. In both cases, as the balance of power shifted more decisively to the colonizing observer, there was a tendency to eschew text-based elite self-representations, "great traditions" mediated by native scholar-experts, and to enter into direct observation of cultivators who yielded a different sort of information about the colony. This new form of data was given meaning within the colonizers' intellectual and administrative categories, whereas the earlier textual studies of Indian and Chinese foundational texts offered their interpreters not only data, but alternative metaphysical, religious, and philosphical systems, ones which often competed with those of the colonizers themselves.

Tsu also points out that the Goto-Okamatsu team went on to set up a similar survey of Manchurian old customs in 1907, which set the standard for more famous projects carried out by the South Manchurian Railway (Mantetsu) in "Russia, Mongolia, North and South East China, and South East Asia (212)" though the 1940s.

Jennifer Robertson's "Staging Ethnography: Theatre and Japanese Colonialism" documents the use of entertainment, specifically popular theater in the form of the all-female Takarazuka Revue, as a mode "through which [the] Japanization of Asia was pursued (266)." This chapter shows how anthropological knowledge could be used in didactic theater at home and in the colonies to teach Japanese and their colonized Asian populations the proper status hierarchy of the peoples in the "co-prosperity sphere."

Part Three concludes the body of the book with two chapters on Dutch studies of Indonesia, and a concluding article by co-editor Jan van Bremen, "The Japanese and Dutch Anthropology of Insular South-East Asia in the Colonial Period 1879-1949." Van Bremen's article catalogs the accomplishments, journals, and institutions advertised in its title. He concludes that histories "of anthropology in Europe and America underexpose anthropology in countries outside the western hemisphere. India, China, Korea and Japan have known professional and academic anthropology for much the same time as the West ... (377)." Herbert Passin, a member of the Allied Occupation of Japan, made this same observation regarding the wealth of published Japanese ethnography in 1947. Passin, however, had a simple explanation for this state of affairs: Japanese anthropologists published in Japanese, so their work appeared doomed to obscurity until it could be translated. [4]

With the evidence put forth in this volume, no one could argue, if anyone ever has, that the accumulation of ethnographic data in published form has been a monopoly of the West. Especially if one labels such a wide variety of writings "data." Margarita Winkel captures the inclusive spirit of the workshop by considering a text to be ethnographic if it is "put forward by its author as a nonfiction work intended to represent, interpret or (perhaps best) translate a culture ... for readers who are ... unfamiliar with that culture (40)." To what extent each of the academic peripheries mentioned in this volume have shaped the research agendas of the international scholarly community remains an open question. The articles by Fred Chiu and Shimizu Akitoshi indicate that much ethnography in East Asia, even if of high quality, has been derivative theoretically.

With so many varieties of texts qualifying as anthropological, it is not surprising that the editors' summary statements are ambiguous at best. First they conclude that "we can distinguish two sorts of relationships between anthropologists and colonies and colonial subjects: as researchers and as administrators ... They felt split between scholarship and duty and experienced a deep anguish from the contradictory demands made upon them (6-7)." Continuing in a similar vein, they write that "representations of colonial others presented by anthropologists, no matter whether professionals or amateurs, conveyed various, and often self-contradictory, ideological discourses depending on the context (8)."

I recommend this book as a timely introduction and thorough guide to the literature on anthropology and colonialism. Its primary goal, as stated, is to publish new data. If the editors have erred slightly on the side of inclusion, the bounty of references to a wide variety of regions, time periods, and approaches, which will aid scholars who wish to pursue the many suggested lines of inquiry further, is more than enough compensation.

As the product of an international conference, most of these articles are written by scholars whose native language is not English. This is admirable, and all of the writing in this volume is intelligible. The editors at Curzon, however, could have done much more to eliminate the many inevitable grammatical and spelling errors or mistakes in word choice that will occur in this type of enterprise. There are no maps in this volume, which is curious considering the number of regions in question. On page 52, "Kamchatka" should be changed to "Sakhalin" or "Karafuto."


[1] Kazunari Moriguchi, ed. Ino Kanori no Taiwan tosa nikki (Ino Kanori's Taiwan Expedition Journals) (Taipei: Taiwan fubutsu zasshisha, 1992), 305; Torii Ryuzo, Aru rogakuto no shuki (Memoirs of an Old Scholar) (Tokyo: Asahi Shinbun, 1950); Paul Barclay, "A Tale of Two Anthropologists: Ino Kanori and Torii Ryuzo in Taiwan," Association of Asian Studies Annual Conference, San Diego, CA, March 10-12, 2000,
[2] Frank L. Jenista, The White Apos: American Governors on the Cordillera Central (Quezon City: New Day, 1987).
[3] Hsieh Shih-chung. "On Three Definitions of Han Ren: Images of the Majority People in Taiwan." In Making Majorities: Constituting the Nation in Japan, Korea, China, Malaysia, Fiji, Turkey, and the United States, edited by Dru C. Gladney, 95-105. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998.
[4] Herbert Passin, "A Note on Japanese Research in Formosa," American Anthropologist 49 (1947): 514-518.

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Posted: 2 June 2000