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History And The Construction Of Collective Memory: Positivist Historiography In The Age Of The Imperial Rescript On Education

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Chapter Summary

The late nineteenth century saw the emergence of a new form of historiography, one that was more thoroughly positivistic in its method and aimed to cultivate a professional academic discipline. The treatment of the issue of 'proper' history in the wake of the Constitution's promulgation and in the context of the ensuing Imperial Rescript on Education is a particularly sharp example of how that new and largely unforeseen development impinged on issues of collective national memory. Through it some insight is gained into how the broad development of Japanese political culture came to 'enshrine', albeit largely unintentionally from the point of view of government, irrationalist and reactionary forces into the political mainstream. Moreover, the success enjoyed by intellectuals and officials aligned with the Court were successful precisely because the Imperial Household had the capacity to evoke enormous reverence while bearing a minimum of recent political and historical baggage.

Keywords: collective national memory; historical baggage; historiography; Imperial Rescript; Japanese political culture; positivistic



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