China as method
MIZOGUCHI Yūzō (Translated by Viren MURTHY)
ABSTRACT This is one of Mizoguchi Yūzō’s famous polemical essays in which he rethinks the problems of Japanese sinology. He contends that China has been essential to constructing Japanese identity and consequently Japanese sinologists developed what he calls a “sinology without China.” That is Japanese sinologists projected a subjective image of China and such visions of China said more about Japan than they did about China. In contrast to this, Mizoguchi attempts to outline the beginnings of a sinology that takes China as method and uncovers the internal dynamics of Chinese history. Towards the end of the essay, he also discusses the ideological implications of such a shift in focus. In short, previous sinologists often took something like Western modernity as a method and forced China into this framework. Against this, Mizoguchi underscores the specific logics of Chinese history and hopes then to construct a new universality grounded in specific spatio-temporal logics around the world.
Keywords: Chinese history, Japanese sinology, new universality, Eurocentrism
Note on the contributor
Mizoguchi Yūzō (1932–2010). Born in Nagoya, he studied in the literature department in Tokyo University and then went to graduate school in Nagoya University. He was a student of Iriya Yoshitaka, and had later taught at Saitama University, Hitotsubashi University and Tokyo University. He was also a Distinguished Professor at Tokyo University. He authored many books, including: 方法としての中国 [China as method. 1989], 中国の衝撃 [China’s impact. 2004], 中国思想史 [Intellectual history of China. 2007], among others.
Note on the translator
Viren Murthy teaches transnational Asian History and researches Chinese and Japanese intellectual history in the Department of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author of The Political Philosophy of Zhang Taiyan: The Resistance of Consciousness (Brill, 2011) and co-editor with Axel Schneider of The Challenge of Linear Time: Nationhood and the Politics of History in East Asia (Brill, 2013), and co-editor with Prasenjit Duara and Andrew Sartori of A Companion to Global Historical Thought, (Blackwell, 2014). He is currently working on a project tentatively entitled: Pan-Asianism and the Conundrums of Post-colonial Modernity.