History's Disquiet

Modernity, Cultural Practice, and the Question of Everyday Life

Harry Harootunian

Columbia University Press

History's Disquiet

Pub Date: March 2002

ISBN: 9780231117951

200 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $30.00£25.00

Pub Date: June 2000

ISBN: 9780231117944

200 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $90.00£74.00

Pub Date: March 2002

ISBN: 9780231505123

200 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $29.99£25.00

History's Disquiet

Modernity, Cultural Practice, and the Question of Everyday Life

Harry Harootunian

Columbia University Press

Acclaimed historian Harry Harootunian calls attention to the boundaries, real and theoretical, that compartmentalize the world around us. In one of the first works to explore on equal footing European and Japanese conceptions of modernity—as imagined in the writings of Georg Simmel and Walter Benjamin, as well as ethnologist Yanagita Kunio and Marxist philosopher Tosaka Jun—Harootunian seeks to expose the problematic nature of scholarly categories. In doing so, History's Disquiet presents intellectual genealogies of such orthodox notions as "field" and "modernity" and other concepts intellectuals in the East and West have used to understand the changing world around them. Contrasting reflections on everyday life in Japan and Europe, Harootunian shows how responses to capitalist society were expressed in similar ways: social critics in both regions alleged a broad sense of alienation, particularly among the middle class. However, he also points out that Japanese critics viewed modernity as a condition in which Japan—without the lengthy period of capitalist modernization that characterized Europe and America—was either "catching up" with those regions or "copying" them.

As elegantly written as it is controversial, this book is both an invitation for rethinking intellectual boundaries and an invigorating affirmation that such boundaries can indeed be broken down.
By performing [the] dramatic, initial foray through an extraordinarily fertile research site that others can now settle and plow, History's Disquiet achieves the status of pioneering work. The Journal of Asian Studies
This is an extraordinary book... It should be read and reread. Takashi Fujitani, Pacific Historical Review
Introduction: The Unavoidable "Actuality'' of Everyday Life
1: Tracking the Dinosaur: Area Studies in a Time of "Globalism''
2: The "Mystery of the Everyday": Everydayness in History
3: "Dialectical Optics'': Everydayness in History

About the Author

Harry Harootunian is professor of history and director of East Asian Studies at New York University. He is author of Toward Restoration and Things Seen and Unseen. He lives in New York City.