Viren Murthy, "The Politics of Time in China and Japan: Back to the Future" (Routledge, 2022)


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Drawing on a wide range of texts and using an interdisciplinary approach, The Politics of Time in China and Japan: Back to the Future (Routledge, 2022) by Viren Murthy shows how Chinese and Japanese intellectuals mobilized the past to create a better future. It is especially significant today given a world where, amidst tensions within Asia and the rise of China, East Asian intellectuals and governments constantly find new political meanings in their traditions. The essays illuminate how throughout Chinese and Japanese history, thinkers constantly weaved together nationalism, internationalism, and a politics of time. This volume explores a broad range of subjects such as premodern and early modern attempts to conjure a politics of Confucianism, twentieth-century Japanese Marxist interpretations of Buddhism, and Japanese and Chinese endeavors to imagine a new world order. In sum, this book shows us why understanding East Asian pasts are essential to making sense of ideological trends in contemporary China and Japan. For example, without understanding Confucianism and how modern intellectuals in China grappled with this body of thought, we would be unable to make sense of the Chinese government’s current promotion of the Chinese classics. This book will interest students and scholars of political science, history, Asian studies, sociology, and philosophy.

Viren Murthy is a Professor in the Department of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is a transnational historian of Asia, and his research focuses on Chinese, Japanese and Indian intellectual history. His particular areas of study concern critiques of capitalism and modernity, and he is also interested in postcolonialism and Marxism.

Shatrunjay Mall is a PhD candidate in the Department of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He works on transnational Asian history, and his dissertation explores intellectual, political, and cultural intersections and affinities that emerged between Indian anti-colonialism and imperial Japan in the twentieth century.

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