書: 《地震國度: 日本地震的文化政治1868-1930 》(中文摘要)

Editors’ Note: This is a Chinese translation of a Teach 3.11 annotation. We invite volunteers to translate and/or contribute content in Korean, Japanese, and Chinese languages. Thank you.

《地震國度: 日本地震的文化政治1868-1930 》

Clancey, Gregory. 2006. Earthquake Nation: The Cultural Politics of Japanese Seismicity, 1868-1930. University of California Press.

《地震國度》幫助我們理解近期日本神戶、東北地區與關東等地區頻繁的地震活動背後的歷史脈絡。《地震國度》榮獲科技史年會(Society for the History of Technology)2007年的Sidney Edelstein獎。此書流暢地闡述日本明治時代中,關於地震學、建築、工程學、文化、政治、土地之間複雜的交互影響。 現代化(modernization)是日本明治時代(1868-1912)的重要特色。在此時期,地震學如何形塑日本社會中諸如「自然」、「科技」、「西方知識」(相較於日本或其他亞洲知識)等概念?地震活動及其相關科學、科技與經驗如何影響了國家建造(state-building)、現代化與日本帝國的擴張?作者 Clancey利用豐富且平易近人的案例來說明這些問題。

強度高達8級的濃尾地震是本書中主要分析的歷史事件。這是於1891年在名古屋附近發生的地震,導致7千人死亡,14萬人無家可歸,對明治政府是個嚴峻的考驗。為了分析「日本地震活動的文化政治性」,作者Clancey從1891年的濃尾地震談起,然後延伸到1923年震度7.9級的關東地震及火災,該地震摧毀東京與橫濱的多數建築,並導致約14萬2千人死亡。

Clancey的論點包括幾個複雜的面向,其中最核心的論點是:在明治時期現代化/西化熱潮下,西式磚瓦、石造建築贏在堅硬、永存且陽剛(作為一種現代文明的象徵),但木製日式建築被形容為脆弱、暫時且陰柔(作為一種被淘汰的傳統的符號)。當濃尾地震毀壞這些堅固石造建築時,濃尾地震已動搖了上述的象徵體系;木造建築於是被當作是具有良好彈性的傳統文化的象徵。雖然當地各地皆是許多日式建築崩壞的遺跡,但日本記者跟藝術家仍然再製了一個新論述來說明日本建築比起西方建築更具有良好彈性。此新論述激發了新的本土文化保護、國族主義式的論述,而這樣的論述也為日本國家建造計畫(state-building)的支持者所接受,此國家建造計劃最終轉變成帝國主義。

對於想使用精簡版本的老師或學生而言,Clancey曾發表一篇50頁關於濃尾地震的文章: Clancey, Gregory. 2006. “The Meiji Earthquake: Nature, Nation, and the Ambiguities of Catastrophe.” Modern Asian Studies 40: 909-951. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3876638.

- Translation by Kuan-Hung Lo

BOOK: Earthquake Nation: The Cultural Politics of Japanese Seismicity, 1868-1930. (2006)

Clancey, Gregory. 2006. Earthquake Nation: The Cultural Politics of Japanese Seismicity, 1868-1930. University of California Press.

Earthquake Nation provides crucial historical context for understanding more recent outbreaks of “Japanese seismicity” in Kobe (1995) and the Tōhoku and Kanto regions of Japan (2011). Recipient of the 2007 Sidney Edelstein Award from the Society for the History of Technology, this book eloquently lays out the complicated interactions among seismology, architecture, engineering, culture, politics, and the living earth itself during a particularly dynamic period in Japanese history.

The Meiji Period (1868-1912) has often been characterized as a time of febrile “modernization” in Japanese history. During this period, what role did seismicity play in shaping Japanese conceptions of nature, technology, and “Western” vs. Japanese or other Asian knowledges? How did seismicity – the science, the technology, and the physical experience of it – influence the projects of state-building, “modernization” and imperial expansion? These are some of the questions that Clancey addresses in this richly detailed and accessible study.

The historical event that propels much of the book’s analysis and narrative trajectory is the estimated 8.0 magnitude Great Nōbi Earthquake, which struck near Nagoya in 1891, killing over 7,000 people, leaving 140,000 homeless, and providing a stern test for the Meiji state. Clancey traces “the cultural politics of Japanese seismicity” from before this event all the way through the 7.9 magnitude Great Kanto Earthquake and subsequent fires of 1923, which devastated Tokyo and Yokohama and killed an estimated 142,000 people.

Clancey’s argument is multifaceted and complex, but part of it goes like this: During the feverish “modernization” (née “Westernization”) of the Meiji era, Western brick- and masonry-based architecture was championed as strong, eternal and masculine – an emblem of modern civilization – whereas wooden Japanese structures were portrayed as weak, temporal and feminine – symbols of obsolete tradition. The Great Nōbi Earthquake literally shook up these notions when it wrecked the rigid masonry buildings that often did not fare as well as the more flexible wooden buildings, at least among larger, more prominent, marquee structures. Although the landscape was littered with the remains of shattered native architecture as well as Western, Japanese journalists and artists reproduced a discourse on the remarkable phenomenon of the apparent brittleness of Western structures versus the perceived, relative resilience of native buildings. This gave rise to new nativist, nationalistic discourses that became taken up by the ongoing state-building (and eventually, imperialist) project in Japan.

For teachers or students who would like to use a shorter, pared-down version of Clancey’s book, he has also published a 50-page paper that tells much of this story of the Great Nōbi Earthquake:

Clancey, Gregory. 2006. “The Meiji Earthquake: Nature, Nation, and the Ambiguities of Catastrophe.” Modern Asian Studies 40:909-951. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3876638.

– Tyson Vaughan

Note: This appeared originally as a sample annotated citation for Teach 3/11. We welcome scholars and graduate students to participate in this project.