Empire of Dogs: Canines, Japan, and the Making of the Modern Imperial WorldAaron Herald Skabelund
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"In this illustrated, easy-to-read, and well-documented book, Skabelund shows how Japan's embrace of Western dog-keeping traditions and perceptions was emblematic of its rise as a modern imperial nation. In doing so, he contributes a noteworthy chapter to the multifaceted story of human/canine partnerships."-The Bark (Summer 2012) “There is much to be learned about a society from a dog's eye view ... Readers need not be dog lovers to appreciate this dogged and deft analysis of empire and its social and cultural repercussions, but those so inclined will find a rewarding trove of lore about dogs in Japan.”-Jeff Kingston, The Japan Times (17 June 2012) “There are few oblique references and the author knits the themes of race, species, power, representation and the history of socio-cultural politics together in a clear, elucidating, and thoroughly thought provoking way ... it must be said at the book also contains a wry wit that makes it all the more enjoyable and the reader all the more motivated to flip the pages. Given these qualities, readers with an interest in a uniquely contextualized history of modern Japan or in the history of Japan's domestic dog species will find it to be a valuable reference.”-Paul S. Hansen, Social Science Japan Journal (Winter 2013) "InEmpire of Dogs, an investigation of the history of dogs in imperial Japan, Aaron Skabelund sets out to 'highlight the concrete uses of dogs, to talk about actual dogs, and to show how their actions were related to their metaphorical deployment in discussions about nation, race, class, and gender in the imperial and postcolonial world' (p. 17)... Empire of Dogsis a well-researched and highly readable treatise on the particularities of dogs in Japan from the 1850s through the first half of the twentieth century."-Elmer Veldkamp,Monumenta Nipponica(2013) “Fascinating in detail and leavened with wry humor, this diligently researched book describes how man's best friend became a silent subaltern of the Japanese empire. By placing Japan in a broad cross-cultural context it also vividly reveals how deeply notions of race, class, power, and purity suffuse human views of other species. An original and eye-opening work-and not just for dog lovers.”-Peter Duus, Emeritus Professor of History, Stanford University “In this engagingly written book, Aaron Herald Skabelund explores the range of roles played by domestic dogs in imperializing, imperial, and postimperial Japan. His work resonates with recent historical scholarship on pets in western societies, and, as a result of its very different geographical focus, offers a challenging new perspective.”-Harriet Ritvo, Arthur J. Conner Professor of History, MIT “Empire of Dogs demonstrates the continued symbiotic relationship between humans and canines that stretches back to Paleolithic times and places this relationship within the key political contexts of modernity: nationalism, imperialism, and globalization. This book is the perfect example of the value of animal studies to the practice of history.”-Kathleen Kete, Borden W. Painter, '58/H '95 Associate Professor of European History, Trinity College “Empire of Dogs is masterfully researched, lucidly narrated, and beautifully illustrated. I caught myself trying to anticipate the historical delights that might be hiding on the next page, but I proved completely unable to do so. For the reader who doubts that dogs are artifacts of the past and important historical topics-not simply reflections of human experiences, but creators of them-this wonderful book will win over those doubters. Whether Japan's dogs serve as symbols of imperial violence, messengers in Manchurian battlefields, companions in middle-class living rooms, or peddlers of electrical appliances, they walk through Japan's modern experience at every level.”-Brett L. Walker, Regents Professor of History, Montana State University, author of The Last Wolves of Japan and Toxic Archipelago: A History of Industrial Disease in Japan “Empire of Dogs envisions the rich and strange history of Japan's rapid twentieth-century transformation from an object of Western imperialism to a formidable imperial subject through a startlingly familiar lens: the domesticated dog. From this angle, Aaron Herald Skabelund's insightful analysis illuminates the historical links between modern imperialism and animal practices, and along the way demonstrates that historiography stands to benefit from closer attention to the companionship and other configurations of these global creatures.”-Susan McHugh, University of New England, author of Dog and Animal Stories: Narrating across Species Lines