The enthusiasm for translation during the early Meiji period is well documented. However, beyond Fukuzawa Yukichi, the publishing sensation of the era, little is known about those who translated works on technology or their motives for doing so. During the 1870s, the heyday of Japan's Meiji enlightenment, over fifty works on technology were translated from Western languages. Although the government often spearheaded this drive, many translators took advantage of inexpensive printing technologies and an accessible book market to publish their own works on Western technologies. This article examines who translated such works and their motives for doing so. It sheds light on how translators exploited traditional means of asserting their authority to ensure the spread of new, “modern” knowledge.
Translating Technology in Japan's Meiji Enlightenment, 1870–1879
Ruselle Meade is Lecturer in Japanese Studies at Cardiff University. Her research focuses on the circulation of scientific and technical knowledge, particularly through translation and popularization, in modern Japan. She is currently working on a monograph that explores how popular representations of technology have helped shaped notions of Japanese identity from the Meiji period onward. This article was completed during a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Tokyo.
Ruselle Meade; Translating Technology in Japan's Meiji Enlightenment, 1870–1879. East Asian Science, Technology and Society 1 September 2015; 9 (3): 253–274. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/18752160-3120392
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