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The Oxford History of Historical WritingVolume 5: Historical Writing Since 1945$
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Axel Schneider and Daniel Woolf

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199225996

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199225996.001.0001

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Japanese Historical Writing

Japanese Historical Writing

(p.637) Chapter 31 Japanese Historical Writing
The Oxford History of Historical Writing

Sebastian Conrad

Oxford University Press

This chapter shows how in Japan, the year 1945 represented a change of a very different kind. Japanese historians now repudiated the ultranationalist historiography of the 1930s and early 1940s, and turned in significant numbers towards Marxism, which rapidly achieved a kind of hegemony. They criticized the master narrative of the post-Meiji past, centered on the Tennō (emperor), and identified it with Fascism as a failed experiment in modernity. In the 1960s, however, this Marxist historiographical dominance was gradually supplanted by a pluralism of competing approaches. Modernization theory, social science methodologies, and ‘history from below’ coexisted, and historians, inspired by the Japanese economic miracle, tried to come to terms with the fact that Japan’s traditions, long perceived as an obstacle to modernization, actually seemed to foster it.

Keywords:   Japanese historical writing, Japanese historiography, ultranationalist historiography, Marxism, Fascism, modernity, modernization theory, social science methodologies

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