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A Geography of Political Geography

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*** DRAFT *** Please do not cite without permission. A Geography of Political Geography: The journal’s impact on Japanese Human Geography Takashi Yamazaki Department of Geography, Osaka City University Mika Kumagai Department of Geography, Osaka City University Paper presented to: The Association of American Geographers Political Geography Specialty Group Pre-conference. Political Geography: Retrospect and Prospect The Marriott Hotel in Boulder, CO April 4, 20051Abstract This paper evaluates the expansion of the readership of Political Geography in Japan in relation to the journal’s theoretical and empirical impacts on Japanese human geography. After Political Geography was founded in 1982, Japanese university libraries subscribing to the journal increased in number from the late 1980s to the early 1990s. This tendency was in parallel with the increase of political geographic studies in Japan. However, compared with other ‘international’ geographical journals widely subscribed to in Japan, the foundation of the journal seems to have limited impact on this ‘political turn’ of Japanese human geography. By analyzing how Japanese human geographers cited articles in the journal, this paper examines the role of the Anglophone journal in the reconstruction of a sub-discipline in Japanese Human Geography. Keywords: Political Geography, subscription, citation, political geography, Japan2Introduction Political geography as a sub-discipline in human geography has not attracted many geographers in Japan since the end of the Second World War. Many geographers, whether political or not, have ascribed the ‘underdevelopment’ of the sub-discipline to the legacy of Japanese geopolitics (e.g. Yamazaki 1995). However, as Yamazaki (1997) has shown with quantitative data, the increase of political geographic studies from the late 1950s to 1960s does not sustain this reasoning. Japanese political geography was active during the period as seen in the activities of the Japanese Association of Political Geographers (Nihon seiji chiri gakkai). It is during the following two decades (the 1970s-80s) that the sub-discipline became stagnant. While concerns about social and political issues such as the Vietnam War, urban riots, and other social problems in the 1960s and 70s led the revitalization of political geography in Anglophone countries, it seems that Japanese human geography de-politicized its research agendas in such a politicized era. Some Japanese radical (Marxist) geographers began to criticize this de-politicized research trend in the 1970s (Moritaki 1971, Takeuchi 1974, Mizuoka 1974). The points of such critiques were that according to its theoretical and disciplinary history, geography itself contained ‘the political’ which could contribute to the expansion of state power and that even modern geography was not free from such a legacy of geopolitics. In addition, there was an argument that in order to understand the political meanings of being involved in governmental policy-making, it was necessary to construct a political geography with a critical perspective of governmental policies (Takeuchi 1986). These critiques of radical geographers, however, did not significantly affect the trend of Japanese geography at that time. As Yamazaki (2001a) argues, the significant breakthrough of this de-politicized trend appeared in the 1990s. Since the end of the 20th century, interests in ‘the political’ have increased in the human and social sciences as a whole not only in developed countries including Japan. What stimulate interests in ‘the political’ are new academic trends such as postmodernism, post-structuralism, and deconstruction. These trends represent radical critiques of the existing epistemological modes as a philosophical reflection on modernity in the late modern era. Responding to these trends, Japanese geographical studies treating ‘the political’ are increasing in number in sub-disciplines other than political geography such as social and cultural geographies. There seem to be two reasons for this perspective shift. One is the contextual or external reason that the paradigm of the nation-state has been severely questioned along with the (partial) end of the3Cold War and globalization; the other is the theoretical or internal one that critical social theories have been actively introduced to Japanese human geography in order to overcome the limits of logical positivism and conventional Marxism. In sum, not only the human and social sciences as a whole in the world but also human geography in Japan are experiencing a ‘political turn.’ The introduction of critical social theories into and the politicization of Japanese human geography do not necessarily result from inter-disciplinary exchanges in Japan but from the adoption of Western philosophy, particularly geographical theories in Anglophone countries based on it. Since the development of Anglophone (i.e. U.K. and U.S.A) geography has significantly influenced postwar Japanese human geography, it seems that its politicization is related to such an influence and not necessarily an outcome of its internal development. Based on the above-mentioned understanding of the postwar development of Japanese human geography, this paper evaluates the expansion of the readership of the journal Political Geography (formerly Political Geography Quarterly, hereafter PG) in Japan in relation to the journal’s theoretical and empirical impact on Japanese human geography. If PG is the international journal that has been frequently cited and contributed to the theoretical and empirical development of political geography, PG would have an impact on the politicization of Japanese human geography and it would be possible to evaluate the impact by analyzing the subscription and citation of the journal in Japan. By examining these aspects of the journal, how the journal has actually contributed to the ‘international’ development of political geography outside Anglophone countries will be clarified. The data In order to evaluate the impact of PG on Japanese human geography, we employed the following three approaches. First, we conducted a survey for the Japanese institutes possessing the journal. Using the National Institute of Informatics’ NACSIS Webcat (NII 2005), which is the online union catalog database of academic documents in the collections of institutions such as university


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