His name was Umesao Tadao.
A Japanese Indiana Jones, Umesao did fieldwork in Afghanistan and Central Asia and later hiked on foot over much of Southeast Asia and Europe, in search of evidence bearing on his ecological theory of civilizations, a mixture of Marx and Hegel modified through his own observations. He saw Eurasia divided into Region 1, a periphery where rich soils and temperate climates made possible the development of agricultural civilizations, feudalism, and then…Continue
One of the first memorable things I learned studying anthropology was an idea called "alternating generations." The theory was that in societies where parents are held responsible for disciplining their children, grandparents could be indulgent playmates. I remember, too, reading in Ruth Benedict's The Chrysanthemum and the Sword that the Japanese envisioned life as a great shallow arc, in which pre-school children and the elderly are seen as much alike, innocent, indulged, free…Continue
When I talk or write about anthropology, works by American, British, and sometimes French, anthropologists instantly come to mind. Like, I suspect, most of us here, I have huge blind spots when it comes to anthropologists from other places.
I was reminded of this recently when The Word Works, Ltd., the the translation and copywriting company that Ruth and I run in Japan, was asked to do some work for the National Museum of Ethnology in Osaka, generally referred to in Japanese as…Continue