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Antiquarians of Nineteenth-Century Japan: The Archaeology of Things in the Late Tokugawa and Early Meiji Periods

Hiroyuki Suzuki
Edited and translated by Maki Fukuoka

This volume explores the changing process of evaluating objects during the period of Japan’s rapid modernization.
Originally published in Japanese, Antiquarians of Nineteenth-Century Japanlooks at the approach toward object-based research across the late Tokugawa and early Meiji periods, which were typically kept separate, and elucidates the intellectual continuities between these eras. Focusing on the top-down effects of the professionalizing of academia in the political landscape of Meiji Japan, which had advanced by attacking earlier modes of scholarship by antiquarians, Suzuki shows how those outside the government responded, retracted, or challenged new public rules and values. He explores the changing process of evaluating objects from the past in tandem with the attitudes and practices of antiquarians during the period of Japan’s rapid modernization. He shows their roots in the intellectual sphere of the late Tokugawa period while also detailing how they adapted to the new era. Suzuki also demonstrates that Japan’s antiquarians had much in common with those from Europe and the United States.

Art historian Maki Fukuoka provides an introduction to the English translation that highlights the significance of Suzuki’s methodological and intellectual analyses and shows how his ideas will appeal to specialists and nonspecialists alike.

Hiroyuki Suzuki is professor emeritus of Japanese art history at Tokyo Gakugei University. Maki Fukuoka is associate professor of the history of art at the University of Leeds.

“What a boon to now have available in English, in an expert translation, this study by Suzuki Hiroyuki, one of the most insightful art historians anywhere in the world. The ostensible subject is antiquarianism, but Suzuki makes clear that during the fast-paced metabolism of Japan in the 1870s, the terms “art” and “antique” are multiple and under constant revision. Situating them at the conjunction of East Asian modes of knowing, traditional modes of assembly, changing display practices, new reprographic technologies, and the professionalization of knowledge, Antiquarians of Nineteenth-Century Japanpeers just under the surface of a more common narrative about the rise of art history in Japan. In doing so, it offers a thoughtful, richly detailed perspective on what art was before Art, on the eve of Nation.”
—Yukio Lippit,
Jeffrey T. Chambers and Andrea Okamura Professor of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University

256 pages
7 x 10 inches
4 color and 25 b/w illustrations, 2 tables
ISBN 978-1-60606-742-0

Getty Publications
Imprint: Getty Research Institute