Tokyo College Event: “The Putative Unity of the West: On Anthropological Difference”

April 23, 2024


Type Lecture
Intended for General public / Enrolled students / Applying students / International students / Alumni / Companies / High school students / University students / Academic and Administrative Staff
Date(s) May 17, 2024 14:00 — 15:30
Location Online
Venue Zoom Webinar
Entrance Fee No charge
Registration Method Advance registration required
Registration Period April 22, 2024 — May 17, 2024


The modern world's international landscape is shaped by an investment in anthropological difference since the emergence of "Europe" in the early modern era. This difference, distinguishing humanitas from anthropos, is anticipatory, guiding humanity's path as a regulative idea rather than a factual norm. It consolidates dichotomies such as Europe/Asia, West/Rest, and white/colored, fostering intricate affiliations. This lecture delves into the identity politics of whiteness, where individuals invest in European culture, Western civilization, and a race devoid of color. However, true belonging remains putative, only realized through contrast with the non-European, non-Western, and non-white.


(Tokyo College Professor, Distinguished Professor of Arts and Sciences at Cornell University)

(Professor, Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, The University of Tokyo)

(Project Assistant Professor, Tokyo College)

Speaker Profile

Naoki Sakai is Distinguished Professor of Arts and Sciences in Asian Studies Emeritus at Cornell University. He used to teach in the departments of Asian Studies and Comparative Literature, and the graduate field of history and the graduate faculty of feminism, gender and sexuality studies until he retired in July 2021. He has published in the fields of comparative literature, intellectual history, translation studies, the studies of racism and nationalism, and the histories of textuality. His publications include: The End of Pax Americana – the Loss of Empire and Hikikomori Nationalism (Duke University Press, 2022); Nationalism of Hikikomori (Iwanami Shoten, 2017); Japan/Cinematic Images/US, (Ibunsha, 2007); Translation and Subjectivity (University of Minnesota Press, 1997); The Stillbirth of the Japanese as a Language and as an Ethnos (Shinyô-sha, 1995); Voices of the Past-the status of language in eighteenth-century Japanese discourse (Cornell University Press, 1991) and many others. He edited a number of volumes including Politics of Translation, special issue of Translation, co-edited with Sandro Mezzadra (2014); The Trans-Pacific Imagination co-edited with Hyon Joo Yoo (World Scientific, 2012); The End of Area, special issue of positions asia critique (Duke UP, 2019). Naoki Sakai served as the founding editor for the project of TRACES, a multilingual series in five languages – Korean, Chinese, English, Spanish and Japanese.

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