Research continuum


The Narcissism of Minor Differences Imagining “Man” through the Medium of Biography.

Entry on Alexis de Tocqueville in Wayō Kijinden (1872)

How would you describe yourself in five words? While this question might be answered in an infinite number of ways, chances are you will focus on matters such as your appearance, race, nationality, religion, work, and personality. That is, when thinking about the characteristics that set ourselves apart from others, our imaginations are effectively restricted to but a few categories. Most of these categories, however, are not given a priori but are dependent on both cultural and historical factors. My research is an attempt to explain when and how these categories have changed in the case of Japan by analyzing the huge volume of biographies published during the period 1600-1912.

Niels van Steenpaal, PhD
Assistant Professor, Hakubi Center for Advanced Research