Dewey and the Ambivalent Modern Japan

  • Kentaro Ohkura


This chapter illuminates the ambiguity of the Japanese identity by reexamining Japanese studies of John Dewey conducted during the watershed period before and after World War II. Dewey viewed as an indigenous foreigner provides an example of the ambivalence of the modern Japan in its struggle in coming to terms with its indigenous and exogenous values over political, social, and educational principles. Thus, this essay is not a case study for introducing the cultural uniqueness of the Japanese understanding of Dewey’s ideas, but rather to indicate the ambiguity of the modern Japanese in their understanding of Dewey. This ambiguity played an important role in providing a rationale for the modernization and building of a democratic Japan. Prewar and postwar Japanese scholars constructed their image of Dewey as a kind of traveling library that served the modern conditions of their country.


Social Study Nation Building Japanese Scholar Japanese Education Social Study Curriculum 
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© Thomas S. Popkewitz 2005

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  • Kentaro Ohkura

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