Facing history with a sense of awe: an interview with Professor Mizoguchi Yuzo
Kuan-Hsing CHEN and SUN Ge (Translated by Saul THOMAS)
ABSTRACT In this wide-ranging interview and discussion with Kuan-Hsing Chen and Sun Ge, Mizoguchi Yuzo describes the origins of his interest in China studies and the process through which he developed his perspective on China, Japan, and the world. Mizoguchi details his break with both old-style Japanese Sinology and Western-influenced scholarship which assumes Japanese superiority over China and takes Euro-American society and concepts as its standard. Mizoguchi suggests that historians can and should cultivate a new subjectivity for themselves and understanding of the history of the world as a whole through an approach to China which attempts to understand China’s own internal historical processes rather than assuming the universality of Western processes. He discusses his efforts to help reform the institutional structure of China studies in Japan, and further touches on the part played by Japan in China’s modern history as well as its historical relations with Taiwan and Korea.
Keywords: China Studies, epistemology, Eurocentrism, subjectivity, Japan, Taiwan, Korea
Note on the interviewee
Mizoguchi Yūzō溝口雄三(1932–2010). Born in Nagoya.After studying Chinese literature in the Faculty of Letters at the University of Tokyo, Mizguchi went on to attend graduate school at Nagoya University, where he became a student of Iriya Yoshitaka. He specialized in Chinese intellectual history and taught at Saitama University, Hitotsubashi University, and The Univerity of Tokyo. He is the author of many books and articles. His representative works include 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 [Chinese intellectual history. 2007].
Note on the interviewers
Kuan-Hsing Chen teaches at the Institute for Social Research and Cultural Studies, National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan. His most recent publication is Asia as Method: Toward Deimperialization (2010, Duke University Press).
Sun Ge 孫歌 obtained her PhD in politics at Faculty of Law, Tokyo Metropolitan University, and is currently the research fellow at Institute of Literary Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Science. Her researches focus on Japanese intellectual history. Her monographs include: 探尋歷史的「基體」 [In search of the “matrix” of history] (2016), 我们为什么要谈东亚 [Why do we need to talk about East-Asia?] (2011), 把握進入歷史的瞬間 [Grasp the moment when we enter history] (2010), 竹內好的悖論 [Takeuchi Yoshimi’s paradox] (2005), 主體彌散的空間 [The space where the subject dissolves] (2002), and 亞洲意味著什麼 [What does Asia mean] (2001).
Note on the translator
Saul Thomas is a Ph.D. student in Anthropology and History at the University of Chicago. He is the editor of Wang Hui’s latest book in English, China’s Twentieth Century (2016, Verso).