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  • Matthew Fraleigh (a1)

This article examines available narratives and modes of representation concerning “civilization” and “savagery” in the early Meiji proto-colonial discursive sphere. It focuses on a major event in the 1874 Taiwan Expedition: Japan's capture and attempted assimilation of an orphaned aboriginal girl. Through an analysis of Japanese newspaper reports, woodblock prints, illustrated books, and commercial photography, this article argues that alongside the well-characterized “rhetoric of aboriginal savagery” that exaggerated the otherness of Taiwanese indigenes, there developed a synergistic “rhetoric of aboriginal civilization” that emphasized the indigenes' capacity for transformation. This mode of representation stressed not the aboriginals' alterity but rather their latent affinity to Japan. According the aboriginal a measure of temporality, the rhetoric of aboriginal civilization formed an indispensable counterpart to the rhetoric of aboriginal savagery: one that affirmed the campaign's “civilizing” component by demonstrating its viability.

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Barclay2010 Paul Barclay . “Peddling Postcards and Selling Empire: Image-Making in Taiwan under Japanese Rule.” Japanese Studies 30:1 (April 2010), pp. 81110.

Eskildsen2002 Robert Eskildsen . “Of Civilization and Savages: The Mimetic Imperialism of Japan's 1874 Expedition to Taiwan.” American Historical Review 107:2 (April 2002), pp. 388418.

Fraleigh2010 Matthew Fraleigh . “Japan's First War Reporter: Kishida Ginkō and the Taiwan Expedition.” Japanese Studies 30:1 (April 2010), pp. 4366.

Howell2005 David Howell . Geographies of Identity in Nineteenth-Century Japan. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005.

Hughes1872 T. F. Hughes Visit to Tok-e-Tok, Chief of the Eighteen Tribes, Southern Formosa.” Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society 16 (1871–1872), pp. 265–71.

Tierney2010 Robert Tierney . Tropics of Savagery: The Culture of Japanese Empire in Comparative Frame. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010.

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International Journal of Asian Studies
  • ISSN: 1479-5914
  • EISSN: 1479-5922
  • URL: /core/journals/international-journal-of-asian-studies
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