Education: Harvard University, Ph.D., 1989.
Best Book on Asia award, American Sociological Association, for The Taming of the Samurai: Honorific Individualism and the Making of Modern Japan; Mirra Komarovsky Book Award, Eastern Sociological Society, 2006, Best Book Award of Cultural Sociology and Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Book Award of Political Sociology, both American Sociological Association, both 2006, and John Hall Prize, Association for Asian Studies, 2007, all for Bonds of Civility: Aesthetic Networks and the Political Origins of Japanese Culture.
The Taming of the Samurai: Honorific Individualism and the Making of Modern Japan, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1995.
Meiyo to Junno, [Japan], 2000.
Bonds of Civility: Aesthetic Networks and the Political Origins of Japanese Culture, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2005.
Bi to reisetsu no kizuna: Nihon ni okeru kosai bunka no seijiteki kigen, NTT Shuppan (Tokyo, Japan), 2005.
Sociologist Eiko Ikegami's areas of interest include civility and state formation in Japan, identities, network, social change, and public spheres in comparative perspective. Her books include The Taming of the Samurai: Honorific Individualism and the Making of Modern Japan. Ikegami described the book to CA as an investigation of "the history of the samurai … focusing on the transformation of their honor culture and the trajectory of Japanese state formation from their ancient origin to their 'taming' during the Tokugawa period." Ikegami noted that this shows "how the Japanese achieved modernity without traveling the route taken by Western countries" and also "provides a new angle to understand the culture of Japanese capitalism.…" Indeed, a Philosophy East and West contributor noted that Ikegami points out that the perception "of the Japanese as so many worker bees fails to take into account Japan's indigenous tradition of competitive individualism, stemming from samurai honor consciousness." Foreign Affairs reviewer Donald Zagoria asserted: "The book is beautifully written and will undoubtedly become standard reading in universities around the world."
Reviews of The Taming of the Samurai were largely filled with praise. History critic Ann M. Harrington, for instance, remarked upon the book's "discussion of individualism in Japanese history" and went on to state that "Ikegami's style is vigorous and definite. The Taming of the Samurai will enlighten Japanese specialists on the historical evolution of the samurai code of honor." Harrington added: "The work is also accessible to non-Japanese specialists because of Ikegami's lucid writing style and almost total absence of jargon." Additionally, Cecilia Segawa Seigle, writing in the Historian commented: "Eiko Ikegami's socio-historical study of the development of the samurai ethos, concomitant with the formation of the Japanese nation, is a profoundly absorbing, scholarly work."
Ikegami's Bonds of Civility: Aesthetic Networks and the Political Origins of Japanese Culture is also a study of Tokugawa Japan. The author told CA: "As the title of this book suggests, the book traces the history in which aesthetic networks became central to Japanese culture of civility." Ikegami also stated that Bonds of Civility "argues that various forms of Japanese arts and poetry have historically raised the distinctive culture of Japanese civility because the socialization through producing art or poems brought different kinds of people into an 'aesthetic public.'" These networks can be traced, Ikegami remarked, "in performing arts, tea ceremony and haiku; the politics of kimono aesthetics, and manners; the popularization of etiquette books; tacit modes of communication in Japanese aesthetics; and the rise of commercial publishing that popularized the aesthetic image of Japan." Remarking upon this approach, Times Literary Supplement contributor Murray Sayle noted that Ikegami "introduces the most original contribution in years towards unravelling some perennial Japanese mysteries."
Critical response to the book was laudatory. Gregory Smits wrote in the Journal of Social History that Ikegami "does produce some valuable insights. In discussing the role of nativism (kokugaku) in Tokugawa haikai poetry networks, for example, Ikegami makes a plausible case that 'the social and cultural capital' local leaders acquired during the Tokugawa period through their networks permitted them to play a major role in the Freedom and Popular Rights (jiyu minken) movement of the early Meiji period." Science contributor Christena Turner called Bonds of Civility "fascinating" and said that after reading it "one returns convinced that art and politics, aesthetics and economics, the rational and the sensual are so deeply interwoven that we should reconsider not only our notions of pre-modern Japan but also our notions of contemporary social life—in Japan and in 'the rest' as well."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Asian Affairs, June, 1996, T.L. Richardson, review of The Taming of the Samurai: Honorific Individualism and the Making of Modern Japan.
Foreign Affairs, November-December, 1995, Donald Zagoria, review of The Taming of the Samurai, p. 139; November-December, 2005, Lucian W. Pye, review of Bonds of Civility: Aesthetic Networks and the Political Origins of Japanese Culture.
Harvard Asiatic Journal, December, 1996, Takie Sugiyama Libra, review of The Taming of the Samurai.
Historian, spring, 1997, Cecilia Segawa Seigle, review of The Taming of the Samurai, pp. 674-675.
History, fall, 1995, Anne M. Harrington, review of The Taming of the Samurai.
Japan Quarterly, October-December, 1996, Janet Goff, review of The Taming of the Samurai.
Journal of Interdisciplinary History, summer, 2006, Gale Lee Bernstein, review of Bonds of Civility.
Journal of Social History, fall, 2006, Gregory Smits, review of Bonds of Civility, p. 251.
Monumenta Nipponica, winter, 1995, Paul Varley, review of The Taming of the Samurai.
Philosophy East and West, January, 1998, review of The Taming of the Samurai, p. 99.
Science, September 15, 2006, Christena Turner, review of Bonds of Civility.
Times Literary Supplement, February 10, 2006, Murray Sayle, review of Bonds of Civility.
New School for Social Research Web site,http://www.newschool.edu/ (November 14, 2006), brief biography of Eiko Ikegami.