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Book review:

ARCHAEOLOGY, SOCIETY, AND IDENTITY IN MODERN JAPAN


- KOJI MIZOGUCHI

(by Dharaa Gupta)

In this book Koji Mizoguchi aims to consider the nature and character of archaoelogy as a
social practice in Japan. He examines the transformation from premodern to modern and
then to postmodern Japan through the lens of archaeological discourse primarily as a
means to understand how the modern nation-state of Japan was established after the Meiji
Restoration in 1868. He demonstrated that how the state employed archaeology to “make
and keep those who live within the boundary of a modern nation-state homgenous.”
especially through the means of education and media. For instance, between the late 19 th
and the first half of 20th century, archaeological discourse was used to support the myth of
the imperial family’s uninterrupted lineage, which in turn served as “the symbol and
embodiment of the continuos existence of the japanese ethnicity.”
Mizoguchi discusses the yoshinogri historical park, a reconstruction of a late yayoi period
administered by the state, which he uses to show the role of the state and various
stakeholders in constructing the history/ archaeological discourse in order to establish a
modern nation-state and to bring out nationalism.In sum, this book throws light upon
different processes through which archaeology has been used in a very biased manner to
bring out a unique identity of Japanese society, so that the politicians could gain from
history for mobilising a real self image.