By Margar Sleeboom
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Additional info for Academic Nationalism in China and Japan: Framed in Concepts of Nature, Culture and the Universal (Nissan Institute Routledge Japanese Studies Series)
At the level of state policy, systematic and large-scale organizations are liable to such reification. For example, the creation of a national language from a dialect that has adapted successfully is an effective tool and symbol of unification. It is a shift from social relations to cultural images. Here Anderson’s thesis, unlike Douglas’ argument, makes scale a central issue; not on the basis of some presumed correlation between size, efficiency and reason, but on that of the semiotic technology required for maintaining a sense of cohesion.
They may regard cultural and political characteristics of society as secondary, as the indirect consequences of a ‘natural’ process of the development of human society. Although such ‘natural’ processes are derived from various sources in nature, they are not usually brought into direct relation with (scientific) laws of nature. Rather, they are associated with intriguing powers that are ascribed to, for instance, the ‘holistic system’ of society, the ‘Japanese brain’ or ‘evolution of the Chinese people’ (see Part II).
However, the symbols themselves are not so much the carriers of magic as the triggers of effects. What makes symbols powerful rather than the belief in the symbols themselves is the belief in the effectiveness of their mobilization. This is why symbols are accompanied by narratives that ‘explain’ the effectiveness of the magic force in terms relevant to the memory and experience of the public. For example, a rocket named Long March embodies a particular history of Chinese struggle and triumph. Another example is the symbol of the Chinese family.
Academic Nationalism in China and Japan: Framed in Concepts of Nature, Culture and the Universal (Nissan Institute Routledge Japanese Studies Series) by Margar Sleeboom