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Visualising oriental crafts: contested notion of “Japaneseness” and the crafts of the Japanese empire

Kikuchi, Yuko (2011) Visualising oriental crafts: contested notion of “Japaneseness” and the crafts of the Japanese empire. In: Question of Oriental Aesthetics and Thinking: Collecting Visions of ‘Asia’ under the Colonial Empires. The International Research Center for Japanese Studies, Kyoto, Japan, pp. 211-235. [Eastern, Asiatic, African, American and Australasian Languages, Literature and related subjects > Japanese Society and Culture studies
Historical and Philosophical studies > History of Design
Creative Arts and Design > Crafts]
 
Details
 
Creators:Kikuchi, Yuko
Type of Research:Book Section
Additional Information (Publicly available):

Organizer: INAGA Shigemi, Professor

Oriental Aesthetics and philosophical thinking were consciously established and propagated by the Asians around 1930s. Beneath the awakening of the self consciousness of the Asia resided its deep identity crisis. The Eastern encounter with the West had provoked spiritual as well as material conflicts in the previous decades. The nationalistic and self-assertive image of the “Orient” has been frequently contested and criticized. And yet, neither the aesthetics nor the philosophy in the East has successfully proposed an alternative self-representation which would replace the stereotypical ‘Oriental’ formulated in the 1930s.

The present project consists of three aspects. It will first aim at critically questionining the genesis and the process of elaboration and diffusion of the so-called ‘oriental aesthetics and philosophical thinking’ in modern Asia. Second, it will analyze the Western involvement in this process. Indeed the East formulated its own image as a compromise so as to meet the Western expectation: while the East was requested to supply necessary remedy to the West, it was not expected to replace the Western hegemony either in politics or in cultural issues. The Oriental thinking was appreciated so long as it was helpful for the West to reaffirm the Western epistemology and consolidate the Western ontology. On the contrary, the Oriental thinking could no longer be accepted whenever it turned out to be incompatible or incommensurable with the Western thought. Threatening the foundation of the Western thinking was not welcome but judged as simply irrelevant and such attempts were cast out of the academic discussion.

Judging from the circumstances, rehabilitating Eastern philosophy or aesthetics is no longer the issue here. What the project will propose in the third place is to rethink the very possibility of the dialog between the East and the West. One paradox must be taken into account here: so long as the Eastern heterogeneity is acceptable for the Western epistemology, the heterogeneity in question is already tamed and recognized within the acceptable limit of the Western philosophical sphere, which is by definition sufficiently homogeneous. Acceptable heterogeneity is thus conditioned by, and equated with, implicit homogeneity. Communication can be established within (and only within) this strict limit: the acceptable heterogeneity (of the items to be treated) within the sphere of admissible homogeneity. In-acceptable heterogeneities are literally ex-communicated from the arena of possible dialog according to the logic of the dialog itself.

The limit of dialog, as it is revealed above, is one of the reasons (among many others which should also be taken into consideration) why the critical re-assessment of the ‘Oriental’ cultural identities in aesthetics and philosophy is crucial.

The reflections on the issue extend itself on a vast arena of intellectual map: Ranging from the generation of R. Tagore, Gu Hongming, Okakura Kakuzo, the chronological span will reach up to the generation of Izutsu Toshihiko in Islamic studies. Such famous or controversial figures like Noguchi Yonejirō, Watsuji Tetsurō, Suzuki Daisetsu or Yanagi Sōetsu must be critically re-evaluated. Hu Shi, Zhou Zuoren, Ling Yutang, etc. among Chinese, Ko Yusop, Park Jonghong, etc. among Korean, A. Coomaraswamy, K. Nag, among Indians, to mention just a few, may worth being re-examined. Among the Europeans, H. Focillon, P. Valery, H. Hesse, R. Rolland, R. Panwitz, A. Schweitzer, K. Röwith, B. Tauto, E. Fromm, L. Masignon, H. Massis etc need to be summoned. Not only eminent individuals and their genealogies but also thematic targets and controversies should be addressed so as to clarify the problematic of the ‘Orient.’

The questioning of the destiny of the ‘Orient’ through aesthetics and philosophy is not alien from the quest of its legacy. The theoretical perspective that the project is expected to open will be made available through the publication of the scholarly papers. This publication will be hopefully accompanied by another compilation of critical anthology of important texts and the establishment of a bio-bibliography. An international symposium will be planned so as to extend the intellectual discussion beyond the restricted limit of Japan’s national academic border.

Keywords/subjects not otherwise listed:Craft, China, Japan, Japanese empire, Manchuria
Publisher/Broadcaster/Company:The International Research Center for Japanese Studies
Your affiliations with UAL:Colleges > Chelsea College of Art and Design
Date:February 2011
Copyright Holders:International Research Center for Japanese Studies, Kyoto, Japan. All rights reserved.
Related Websites:http://www.ari.nus.edu.sg/docs/CV/YukoKikuchi-CV.pdf
Projects or Series:Research Outputs Review (April 2010 - April 2011)
ID Code:3968
Deposited By:Prerna Bhatt
Deposited On:10 Feb 2012 10:11
Last Modified:10 Feb 2012 10:11
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