The emergence of Japanese ethnology: A case study of the ethnologist Matsumoto Nobuhiro in the period 1919-23

Petra Karlova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This paper attempts to clarify the emergence of Matsumoto Nobuhiro as an ethnologist in the period 1919-23. Matsumoto Nobuhiro (1897-1981) was an ethnologist who is known as a pioneer in Southeast Asian studies and the Japanese mythology in Japan. Previous researches have already pointed out the influence of Yanagita Kunio and of the French School of Sociology on Matsumoto's academic work from the late 1920s. However, they did not examine Matsumoto's research in the early 1920s when Matsumoto started studying ethnology. The clarification of the formation of Matsumoto's ethnology in this period can contribute to the understanding of emergence and formation of ethnology in Japan. Based on the analysis of Matsumoto's writing in the period 1919-23, this paper explains that Matsumoto became ethnologist because he joined the discussion on the human origins under influence of Evolutionism. It argues that he researched primitive culture of various peoples in order to clarify the origins of the Japanese and Chinese culture. Further, the paper shows that Matsumoto became ethnologist due to studying Western ethnology under the guidance of ethno-psychologist Kawai Teiichi and folklorist Yanagita Kunio, and it mentions also influence of Matsumoto's teachers of Chinese history on the formation of Matsumoto's ethnology. Therefore, the paper demonstrates that the Japanese ethnology emerged from the discussion on the human origins under influence of Evolutionism by importing Western ethnological theories in close relation with the Japanese folklore studies and history.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-379
Number of pages21
JournalArchiv Orientalni
Volume82
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jan 1
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Evolutionist ethnology
  • Japanese ethnology
  • Matsumoto Nobuhiro
  • Primitive culture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History

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