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HISTORICKÁ SOCIOLOGIE, Vol 13 No 2 (2021), 31–46

Encounters and Engagement in the Civilizational Analysis of Japan

Jeremy C. A. Smith

DOI: https://doi.org/10.14712/23363525.2021.16
announced: 29. 11. 2021


As a field of significant activity for historical sociologists in recent decades, civilizational analysis has produced extensive and incisive works examining Japan as a historical formation of Eurasia. However, the same cannot be said of Japan’s Pacific relationship with the United States, which is neglected in the major historical sociologies of Japanese modernity. This essay seeks to address that unnecessary oversight by putting that relationship into focus as an international dimension of the institution of both states. It would be tempting to elucidate the entanglement of the two as an encounter of civilizations, but the author instead casts it as intercivilizational engagement, that is a deeper set of connections generated by routine contacts and migratory movements, trade in commerce and culture, and selective appropriation of models of statehood. Delineating the lines of exchange in all four domains of connectivity between Japan and the US, the essay profiles the international and imperial extensions of both states. In altering the perspective on Japan’s relations with the world, the author outlines a larger potential historical sociology of intercivilizational engagement between two Pacific-edge civilizational constellations.

keywords: civilizational analysis; the Pacific; migration; international relations; capitalism; technoscience

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