Imperial Cities as Cultural Nodes: A View from Early Twentieth-Century Tokyo

Global Urban History

Jordan Sand, Georgetown University

Kuo Hsueh-hu Festival on South St Guy Xuehu, «Festival on South Street», 1930 [1] I recently published a collection of essays exploring the culture of the Japanese empire. It proved impossible to talk about this subject without talking about other empires, which provided the institutional models and many of the material forms for Japan’s imperial modernity. And the case of imperial Japan, which brought Western modernity to other countries in Asia and the Pacific while at the same time seeking to modernize itself based on Western models, suggested the fruitfulness of considering modern imperialism not simply in terms of a metropolitan core and colonial periphery, but as a set of networked sites of asymmetrical encounter. In this framework, imperial cities take on special importance, as places of rapid cultural change and of cultural interchange. Since the fundamental structures of colonial empires were explicitly hierarchical, culture tended to move through these networks…

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