Foreign Knowledge or art nation, earthquake nation : architecture, seismology, carpentry, the West, and Japan, 1876-1923
Author(s)Clancey, Gregory K
Architecture, seismology, carpentry, the West, and Japan, 1876-1923
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Program in Science, Technology and Society.
Merrit Roe Smith.
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This dissertation follows British professors at Tokyo's late nineteenth century College of Technology (Kobudaigaku) and continues into the twentieth century with the Japanese students they trained. My first chapters map out an argument between British disciplines over Japanese 'adaptation' and/or 'resistance' to nature, a conflict driven by the development of the modem science of seismology in Tokyo. Seismology was a unique cross-cultural project - a 'Western' instrumental science invented and first institutionalized in a non-Western place. I discuss bow artifacts as diverse as seismographs, five-story wooden pagoda, and Mt. Fuji became 'boundary objects' in a fierce dispute between spokesmen for science and an over the character of the Japanese landscape and people. The latter chapters explain bow young Japanese architects and seismologists re-mapped the discursive and instrumental terrains of their British teachers, challenging foreign knowledge-production from inside colonizing disciplines. The text is framed around the story of the Great Nobi Earthquake of 1891. According to contemporary Japanese narratives, the great earthquake (the most powerful in modem Japanese history) was particularity damaging to the new 'foreign' infrastructure, and caused Japanese to seriously question, for the first time, the efficacy of foreign knowledge. 'Japan's earthquake problem' went from being one of bow to import European resistance into a fragile nation, to one of how to make a uniquely fragile imported infrastructure resist the power of Japanese nature. I critically re-tell this Japanese story as a corrective to European and American images of Meiji .Japan as a 'pupil country' and the West as a 'teacher culture'. "Foreign Knowledge" demonstrates in very concrete ways bow science and technology, art and architecture, gender, race, and class co-constructed Meiji Japan. Distinctions between 'artistic' and 'scientific' representations of culture/nature were particularly fluid in late nineteenth century Tokyo. Architects in my text often speak in the name of science and seismologists become an critics and even ethnographers. The narrative is also trans-national; centered in Tokyo, it follows Japanese architects, scientists, and carpenters to Britain, Italy, the United States, and Formosa.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Program in Science, Technology and Society, 1999.Includes bibliographical references.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Program in Science, Technology and Society.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Program in Science, Technology and Society.