Above the Clouds: Status Culture of the Modern Japanese by Takie Sugiyama Lebra PDF

By Takie Sugiyama Lebra

ISBN-10: 0520076028

ISBN-13: 9780520076020

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This most up-to-date paintings from Japanese-born anthropologist Takie Sugiyama Lebra is the 1st ethnographic examine of the fashionable jap aristocracy. proven as a category firstly of the Meiji interval, the kazoku ranked without delay under the emperor and his kinfolk. formally dissolved in 1947, this staff of social elites continues to be more often than not perceived as the Aristocracy. Lebra won access into this tightly knit circle and carried out multiple hundred interviews with its individuals. She has woven jointly a reconstructive ethnography from their existence histories to create an intimate portrait of a distant and archaic world.

As Lebra explores the tradition of the kazoku, she areas every one topic in its ancient context. She analyzes the evolution of prestige obstacles and the imperative function performed through outsiders.

But this booklet isn't really easily concerning the elite. it's also approximately commoners and the way each one stratum mirrors the opposite. Revealing formerly unobserved complexities in jap society, it additionally sheds mild at the common challenge of social stratification.

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The next stage of ancient aristocratic history opened with the Taika Reform. This event, prefaced by a successful palace coup d’éetat in 645 that overthrew the Soga, inaugurated drastic steps to compel kabane holders further to uphold the imperial authority. Politicization of kabane titles reached a peak during the reign of Emperor Tenmu, when a new system of eight cap-color ranks (yakusa no kabane) was superimposed on the earlier system, relegating the titles of omi and muraji to the lower ranks (sixth and seventh, respectively).

The result was a deification of the top echelon of humans—a gross example of “cultural hegemony” indeed. The genealogical legitimacy of the imperial dynasty was further constructed by lineally threading separate dynasties and separate provincial rulers who could have been contemporaries into a single continuous succession. As Mizuno Yu (cited in Barnes 1988, 11) demonstrates, the Yamato court consisted of three dynasties, the Sujin, Ojin, and Keitai lines, which were localized in different areas of the Kinai region, namely Miwa, Kawachi, and Asuka.

When I learned that many of the older women had gone through premarital apprenticeships as maids in middle-and upper-class urban households, it occurred to me that the other side of this interclass social complex required closer examination. At the same time, I met a famous actress of aristocratic origin whose fascinating story prompted me to conceive a study of the vanishing aristocracy and to begin to contact more people of this background. This stimulus later developed into a primary project involving intensive fieldwork for five months in 1982 and ten months in 1984-85, mainly in Tokyo and environs, with occasional trips to other parts of Japan.

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Above the Clouds: Status Culture of the Modern Japanese Nobility by Takie Sugiyama Lebra


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