History's Disquiet: Modernity, Cultural Practice, and the Question of Everyday Life / Edition 2

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Acclaimed historian Harry Harootunian calls attention to the boundaries, real and theoretical, that compartmentalize the world around us. In one of the first works to explore on equal footing European and Japanese conceptions of modernity—as imagined in the writings of Georg Simmel and Walter Benjamin, as well as ethnologist Yanagita Kunio and Marxist philosopher Tosaka Jun—Harootunian seeks to expose the problematic nature of scholarly categories. In doing so, History's Disquiet presents intellectual genealogies of such orthodox notions as "field" and "modernity" and other concepts intellectuals in the East and West have used to understand the changing world around them. Contrasting reflections on everyday life in Japan and Europe, Harootunian shows how responses to capitalist society were expressed in similar ways: social critics in both regions alleged a broad sense of alienation, particularly among the middle class. However, he also points out that Japanese critics viewed modernity as a condition in which Japan—without the lengthy period of capitalist modernization that characterized Europe and America—was either "catching up" with those regions or "copying" them.

As elegantly written as it is controversial, this book is both an invitation for rethinking intellectual boundaries and an invigorating affirmation that such boundaries can indeed be broken down.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Pacific Historical Review - Takashi Fujitani
This is an extraordinary book... It should be read and reread.
Pacific Historical Review
This is an extraordinary book... It should be read and reread.

— Takashi Fujitani

The Journal of Asian Studies
By performing [the] dramatic, initial foray through an extraordinarily fertile research site that others can now settle and plow, History's Disquiet achieves the status of pioneering work.
Rey Chow
In his magisterial account of modernity and the everyday, Harry Harootunian has offered an incisive critique of the politics of knowledge production regarding 'Japan, ' 'Asia, ' and beyond. The theoretical sophistication, passion, and vision of this work are exemplary.
Masao Miyoshi
A fearlessly critical book, freely integrating theories and opinions culled from all places and periods. One of the very few truly exciting books on Japan, it sees Japan as simply one of the countries in the world, thus shedding powerful light on contemporary intellectual problems of every society.
Journal of Asian Studies
By performing [the] dramatic, initial foray through an extraordinarily fertile research site that others can now settle and plow, History´s Disquiet achieves the status of pioneering work.
C. Schirokauer
Harootunian has long shown himself sensitive to theory and is known for provocative, difficult, and stimulating contributions . . . the present volume . . . takes a vigorous swipe at area studies and argues for the need for theory early on, suggesting a fusion with cultural studies as a remedy . . . This book will be of interest to upper-division and graduate students of cultural studies and intellectual history.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231117951
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/2002
  • Series: Wellek Library Lectures Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 200
  • Sales rank: 1,353,589
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Harry Harootunian is professor of history and director of East Asian Studies at New York University. He is author of Toward Restoration and Things Seen and Unseen. He lives in New York City.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Unavoidable "Actuality'' of Everyday Life1: Tracking the Dinosaur: Area Studies in a Time of "Globalism''2: The "Mystery of the Everyday": Everydayness in History3: "Dialectical Optics'': Everydayness in History

Columbia University Press

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