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Japanese Confucianism
A Cultural History

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Part of New Approaches to Asian History

  • Date Published: June 2016
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107058651

$ 93.99 (P)

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About the Authors
  • For more than 1500 years, Confucianism has played a major role in shaping Japan's history - from the formation of the first Japanese states during the first millennium AD, to Japan's modernization in the nineteenth century, to World War II and its still unresolved legacies across East Asia today. In an illuminating and provocative new study, Kiri Paramore analyses the dynamic history of Japanese Confucianism, revealing its many cultural manifestations, as religion and as a political tool, as social capital and public discourse, as well as its role in international relations and statecraft. The book demonstrates the processes through which Confucianism was historically linked to other phenomenon, such as the rise of modern science and East Asian liberalism. In doing so, it offers new perspectives on the sociology of Confucianism and its impact on society, culture and politics across East Asia, past and present.

    • Offers a new approach to the study of Confucianism in Japan from the perspective of cultural history
    • Challenges former understandings of how Confucianism affects society, culture and politics across East Asia
    • Provides an account of an East Asian tradition which links pre-modern, modern and contemporary history
    Read more


    • Winner, 2016 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

    Reviews & endorsements

    "An outstanding study of the complex and multiple manifestations of Confucianism throughout Japanese history. Through rich historical analyses, Kiri Paramore reveals the surprising and often counter-intuitive roles that Confucianism has played in Japan. This is a book that challenges many of our assumptions about Confucianism and that opens up new ways of thinking about both Japanese history and Confucianism in general."
    Michael Puett, Walter C. Klein Professor of Chinese History, Harvard University, Massachusetts and author of Ritual and its Consequences

    "Kiri Paramore has written a marvelous book about Confucianism in Japan as a hermeneutic tradition. It is interpreted and lived variously as establishment orthodoxy and subversive authority, as expressive individualism and fascist control, as religious truth and pragmatic dialogue. Its polymorphic role is key to grasping its enduring power in East Asia."
    Prasenjit Duara, Raffles Professor of Humanities, National University of Singapore and author of The Crisis of Global Modernity

    "If you want to understand the Confucian revival in China, you need to read Kiri Paramore’s Japanese Confucianism: A Cultural History. The book’s significance goes beyond its nuanced analysis of Confucianism’s multiple iterations in Japan. It also explains how Confucianism has become so central in the rise of popular cultural nationalism in China today."
    William A. Callahan, London School of Economics and Political Science and author of China Dreams

    'Kiri Paramore’s Japanese Confucianism: A Cultural History offers a welcome and groundbreaking approach to the current revival of interest in Confucian and Neo-Confucian studies. … The greatest value of this book, however, is its contribution to the field of East Asian Confucian and Neo-Confucian studies. In presenting Japanese Confucianism as a multifaceted tradition outside of China for … more than one thousand years, Paramore has opened the field to new interpretations of what was once considered a hide-bound, monolithic orthodoxy.' Alison Jameson, Reading Religion

    'Paramore’s analysis remains extremely well-informed and readable throughout the book without unnecessary concessions to academic jargon, thus making it equally useful as a text for courses on Japanese religions.' Ugo Dessì, Religious Studies Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2016
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107058651
    • length: 248 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 156 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.47kg
    • contains: 6 b/w illus. 6 maps 1 table
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Confucianism as cultural capital: mid-first millennium AD – late sixteenth century AD
    2. Confucianism as religion, 1580s–1720s
    3. Confucianism as public sphere, 1720s–1868
    4. Confucianism as knowledge, 1400s–1800s
    5. Confucianism as liberalism, 1850s–1890s
    6. Confucianism as fascism, 1868–1945
    7. Confucianism as taboo, 1945–2015

  • Author

    Kiri Paramore, Universiteit Leiden
    Kiri Paramore is University Lecturer in Japanese History at Leiden University. He studied Asian History at the Australian National University (BAS Hons, 1999) and worked for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade before moving to Japan to study Area Studies and Intellectual History at the University of Tokyo (MA 2003, PhD 2006). He has been awarded research fellowships from the Institute of East Asian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Institute of Chinese Literature and Philosophy at Academia Sinica, Taipei, where he was Visiting Research Professor from 2011–12. His first book was Ideology and Christianity in Japan (2009).


    • Winner, 2016 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

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