To Stand with the Nations of the World: Japan's Meiji Restoration in World History
To Stand with the Nations of the World: Japan's Meiji Restoration in World History

To Stand with the Nations of the World: Japan's Meiji Restoration in World History

Mark Ravina

Winner of the Southeast Conference of the Association for Asian Studies Book Prize

  • Explores the emergence of modern Japan upon the 2018 sesquicentennial of the 1868 Meiji Restoration
  • The first one-volume study of the Meiji Restoration since 1972
  • Argues that modernization and globalization have long been a part of history—well before the nineteenth century
  • Sets a major event of national history into world historical context

The samurai radicals who overthrew the last shogun in 1868 promised to restore ancient and pure Japanese ways. Foreign observers were terrified that Japan would lapse into violent xenophobia. But the new Meiji government took an opposite course. It copied best practices from around the world, building a powerful and modern Japanese nation with the help of European and American advisors. While revering the Japanese past, the Meiji government boldly embraced the foreign and the new. What explains this paradox? How could Japan's 1868 revolution be both modern and traditional, both xenophobic and cosmopolitan?
To Stand with the Nations of the World explains the paradox of the Restoration through the forces of globalization. The Meiji Restoration was part of the global "long nineteenth century" during which ambitious nation states like Japan, Britain, Germany, and the United States challenged the world's great multi-ethnic empires—Ottoman, Qing, Romanov, and Hapsburg. Japan's leaders wanted to celebrate Japanese uniqueness, but they also sought international recognition. Rather than simply mimic world powers like Britain, they sought to make Japan distinctly Japanese in the same way that Britain was distinctly British. Rather than sing "God Save the King," they created a Japanese national anthem with lyrics from ancient poetry, but Western-style music. The Restoration also resonated with Japan's ancient past. In the 600s and 700s, Japan was threatened by the Tang dynasty, a dynasty as powerful as the Roman empire. In order to resist the Tang, Japanese leaders borrowed Tang methods, building a centralized Japanese state on Tang models, and learning continental science and technology. As in the 1800s, Japan co-opted international norms while insisting on Japanese distinctiveness. When confronting globalization in 1800s, Japan looked back to that "ancient globalization" of the 600s and 700s. The ancient past was therefore not remote or distant, but immediate and vital.


Note to Reader
Chapter 1: An Almost Perpetual Peace
Chapter 2: The Crisis of Imperialism
Chapter 3: Reform and Revolution
Chapter 4: A Newly Ancient Japan
Chapter 5: The Impatient Nation
Chapter 6: The Prudent Empire


Mark Ravina is Professor of History at Emory University. He is the author of The Last Samurai and Land and Lordship in Early Modern Japan.

"It is rare to find a text which focuses so much on the Meiji's internationalization in the particular way which this text does...Ravina's book is rich in cultural and intellectual history, and is wide-randing geographical and temporal boundaries make for an engaging read for those interested in macro-level analyses." - Scott C.M. Bailey, Kansai Gaidai University, Journal of World History

"by accentuating a robust history of Japanese reform and global engagement, Ravina offers important clues to how a truly global history of change in nineteenth-century Japan might look" - Frederick R. Dickinson, Pacific Affairs

"[O]ffers a wonderful reinterpretation of the overthrow of the Tokugawa regime and the emergence of the modern Japanese nation-state in the 19th century. The book is replete with insightful observations and contributes in many new ways to understanding this pivotal event....Highly recommended." - CHOICE

"A timely reinterpretation of the social and political transformations of the early Meiji period, this book is essential reading for anyone seeking a fuller understanding of Japan's place in the modern world. Tracing the confluence of global and local forces of change, as well as the impact of lessons remembered from the deeper past, it offers an impressively broad-ranging account of this most consequential of historical moments." - Daniel Botsman, Yale University

"This wonderful new history of the Meiji Restoration banishes once and for all the old image of a passive Japan reacting to pressures from the West. Mark Ravina emphasizes Japanese agency in its dealing with the imperialist powers as well as the continued importance of China to the Meiji leaders. In his discussion of domestic politics, he gives the Tokugawa shogunate credit for anticipating many of the modernizing reforms implemented by the Meiji state. Ravina has given us a refreshing and important new survey of one of the modern world's great revolutions." - David L. Howell, Harvard University

"To Stand with the Nations of the World releases Japanese history from East-West, tradition-modernity binaries, freeing it to participate in the global history of nation-state formation and nineteenth-century imperialism. In this enthralling reinterpretation of the Meiji Restoration, Ravina highlights the skilled political discourse that integrated universal ideals with Japan's distinctive past." - Julia Adeney Thomas, author of Reconfiguring Modernity: Concepts of Nature in Japanese Political Ideology

"By many accounts, Japan's new leaders after 1868 demonstrated an uncanny knack for creating a modern nation-state along Western lines. One of the leading experts of the Tokugawa and Meiji eras, Ravina instead reveals the considerable tensions among early modern precedents, ancient imperial models, and populist and statist visions in efforts to embed Japan in the emerging global order." - Sheldon Garon, author of Molding Japanese Minds: The State in Everyday Life


ISBN : 9780190088378

Mark Ravina
328 ページ
156 x 235 mm





To Stand with the Nations of the World: Japan's Meiji Restoration in World History

To Stand with the Nations of the World: Japan's Meiji Restoration in World History

To Stand with the Nations of the World: Japan's Meiji Restoration in World History