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Social History (1) – Neglected Commoners

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Chapter Summary

This chapter suggests that Yamaji Aizan was a pioneer social historian who paid special attention to the activity and role of commoners, including minorities, in history which had been neglected in the progressive view of history, as held by the Marxist historians and the Enlightenment scholars. Yamaji's independent and critical spirit was also displayed when he levelled his criticism at Hara Katsurō's book on medieval Japanese history based on the progressive view of history. Yamaji's criticism was levelled at Hara's view that it was the Kamakura period which saw the starting point of the development of Japanese civilization. It was also levelled at the progressive view of history that adopted a dichotomy and understood each historical period in terms of the concept 'development' or 'stagnation'. Hara Katsurō insisted that the second half of the Heian period, namely the age of the Fujiwara family, showed signs of moral decadence.

Keywords: Fujiwara family; Hara Katsurō; Japanese civilization; Kamakura period; Marxist historians; medieval Japanese history; Yamaji Aizan



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