Knowledge and Philosophy
Can the approach of cultural anthropology--a quintessentially Western discipline so often considered the "handmaiden of colonialism"--be applied toward a better understanding of the culture of Japan--the source of so many quintessentially Eastern traditions?
This book responds affirmatively by assessing the results of more than half a century of research on Japanese culture, filtered and woven together through the application of "dialogic anthropology"--one of the most promising new methodological developments in cross-cultural research, and the template for a new, integrative pedagogy.
Throughout the book, the reader is reminded of the tension that inevitably exists between insider and outsider perspectives on a culture. Dialogic anthropology, built on close cooperation between native and foreign anthropologists in the analysis of "whole" cultures, proposes a solution to the epistemological problems inherent to the "one-perspective-only" research approach. Japan offers particularly attractive conditions for the application of dialogic anthropology, and the book recognizes the pioneering work of its early Japanese theorists.
Dialogic anthropology also implicitly highlights the importance of "cultural reflexivity"--the self-reflective understanding of one's own cultural background--for social scientists in general and for East-West researchers in particular. In fact, cultural reflexivity, and the cross-cultural competence it engenders, may provide the most crucial cognitive skills for the 21st century.
By bringing the reader into Japanese culture as a living, dynamical system, amenable to cross-cultural analysis, the book encourages the development of cultural reflexivity, and stimulates the recognition of insider/outsider perspectives in all encounters, thus serving as a powerful pedagogical tool.