Discourses on New Medieval Era in the Postwar Japan

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This paper traces the discussion of the "New Medieval Era" in postwar Japanese intellectual discourses and examines the reason why such a subject kept attracting some Japanese intellectuals. During the past few decades, there emerged the disocurses on the idea of "New Medieval Era" involving Japanese writers, political scientists, and philosophers. Although the intellectual backgrounds of the authors of these discourses are different, they shared the same concern about the limit of existing political and international regime and possible transition to new order. The most well-known and impactful work was Japanese political scientist Tanaka Akihiko's "The New Middle Ages (Atarashi Chusei)" published in 1996, but other intellectuals such as Yamaguchi Izumi and Okubo Kazushi also wrote about this idea in the 1990s and 2000s and they addressed the question of modernity with this idea. What is uncanny about this trend is that the idea of "New Medieval Era" was once claimed by a Kyoto School philosopher who engaged in the discussion of "Overcoming Modernity." By referring to such a historical context of this idea, my paper examines the implication of this discussion.


ConferenceThe 13th Asian Conference on Cultural Studies (ACCS2023)
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