AUTHORS ON ASIA The Wrong West: Foreign Models for the Invention of Modern Japan

October 14, 2003
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Lecture past event

In the course of little more than 100 years from the day Commodore Matthew Perry arrived in his black ships, Japan mutated from an isolated, pre-industrial island nation into an expansive military dictatorship that essentially supplanted the British, French, Dutch and American empires in Asia, before plunging into utter ruin and eventually emerging under American tutelage as a pseudo-Western-style democracy and economic dynamo.

Drawing from his most recent book, Inventing Japan: 1853-1964, Ian Buruma traces this remarkable metamorphosis by looking at the different Western models that were considered and sometimes adopted by Japan from the late Tokugawa period until recent times. He also explains his thesis that Japan too often opted for the wrong ideas–imperialism, militarism and ethnic nationalism instead of liberal democracy.

Followed by a reception and booksigning.

Presented as part of U.S.-Japan 150 Years, a year-long celebration commemorating the 150th anniversary of U.S.-Japan relations.

Tickets: $10, Japan Society members & seniors $8, students $5.

Ceramics at this evening’s lecture. 

  • Tuesday, October 14, 2003
  • 6:30 pm