From White to Yellow: The Japanese in European Racial Thought, 1300-1735 by Rotem KownerFrom White to Yellow: The Japanese in European Racial Thought, 1300-1735 by Rotem Kowner

From White to Yellow: The Japanese in European Racial Thought, 1300-1735

byRotem Kowner

Paperback | November 30, 2014

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When Europeans first landed in Japan they encountered people they perceived as white-skinned and highly civilized, but these impressions did not endure. Gradually the Europeans' positive impressions faded away and Japanese were seen as yellow-skinned and relatively inferior. Accounting for this dramatic transformation, From White to Yellow is a groundbreaking study of the evolution of European interpretations of the Japanese and the emergence of discourses about race in early modern Europe. Transcending the conventional focus on Africans and Jews within the rise of modern racism, Rotem Kowner demonstrates that the invention of race did not emerge in a vacuum in eighteenth-century Europe, but rather was a direct product of earlier discourses of the "Other." This compelling study indicates that the racial discourse on the Japanese, alongside the Chinese, played a major role in the rise of the modern concept of race. While challenging Europe's self-possession and sense of centrality, the discourse delayed the eventual consolidation of a hierarchical worldview in which Europeans stood immutably at the apex. Drawing from a vast array of primary sources, From White to Yellow traces the racial roots of the modern clash between Japan and the West.
Rotem Kowner is professor in the Department of Asian Studies at the University of Haifa.
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Title:From White to Yellow: The Japanese in European Racial Thought, 1300-1735Format:PaperbackDimensions:712 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.68 inPublished:November 30, 2014Publisher:McGill-Queen's University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0773544550

ISBN - 13:9780773544550

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Editorial Reviews

“Focusing on the five centuries between Marco Polo’s first report of a mysterious island called Cipangu and Linnaeus’s categorization of the Japanese as a “yellow” race in 1735, Kowner builds a compelling argument that traces the development of racism from Europeans’ earliest imaginings of the Japanese people to the heart of Enlightenment thought. I can think of many other works that attempt to do the same but lack the clarity found here. This work is both timely and adds something new to the contemporary debate on the birth of race in Western thought.” Itinerario