19.11.2012 - 00:00:00
Book Announcement: Kristin Surak: Making Tea, Making Japan. Cultural Nationalism in Practice
Kristin Surak: Making Tea, Making Japan. Cultural Nationalism in Practise
Stanford University Press, 2012
ISBN: 9780804778664 Cloth
ISBN: 9780804778671 Paper
ISBN: 9780804784795 E-book
For more information: http://www.sup.org/book.cgi?id=20929
Though a pregnant symbol of Japan associated with heights of power politics for over five centuries, the tea ceremony has attracted little scholarly attention outside the archipelago. Making Tea, Making Japan: Cultural Nationalism in Practice offers the first comprehensive analysis of the practice that includes new material on its various historical metamorphoses, a detailed excavation of its institutional organization, and a careful analysis of the relationship between the national meanings of the tea ceremony and the actual experience and enactment of the practice. In so doing, it uncovers how the practice acquired national inflections while undergoing a radical transformation of its carriers, as what was once an aesthetic pastime of elite men has survived into the twenty-first century as a hobby of middle-class women.
Simultaneously, the book offers an analytical bridge between the largely separate literatures on macro-political nationalism and micro-cultural enactments of everyday nationhood, by examining their shared repertoire of action. This "nation-work" is visible not only during the foundational phases of nation-building, but also in the more mundane routines of nation-maintenance thereafter. Each chapter applies a different interpretive lens – phenomenological, historical, institutional, and ethnographic – to capture the ways Japaneseness crystallizes in the tea ceremony both during the fervor of nation formation, and in the moment-to-moment interactions within the tea room. The conclusion sets the practice in comparative perspective, drawing on other classic venues of nation-work – gymnastics and music – in Europe and Asia, and returning the different dimensions of the tea ceremony to the overall framework under which they are viewed: as an exceptionally vivid illustration of one of the fundamental processes of modernity, the work of making nations.