Both Conquerors and Victims

Japan, Wales and the Long Revolution

From Planet 243

by Shintaro Kono

Raymond Williams scholar Shintaro Kono on why the work of Williams has particular resonance in Japan, drawing on his experience as a rural ‘scholarship boy’ at the University of Tokyo. He traces the contrasts and similarities between Japan and Wales in terms of class, nationhood and neoliberalisation...

Why am I, a Japanese academic, interested in Raymond Williams? This is a question that I get asked frequently. I am not unique in having this interest. Indeed, many of Williams’s works have been translated into Japanese since Culture and Society was translated (in part) in 1968, and recently there has been a fresh interest in his ideas here, with a range of new monographs and translations. But what spurs this interest? I have never come up with a satisfactory answer. Sometimes his writings seem very familiar to me and it’s as if the experience they convey exactly chimes with mine, despite the spatial, temporal, and cultural distances that separate myself and his writings. But at other times, his words can get strangely remote, and the experience and history behind them seem to slip away from my perception. At such times his writing gets helplessly difficult.

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