Race as an object of social sciences

TEPSIS and the Institute for Human Sciences (Zinbunken) of Kyoto University have started a collaboration since 2017 about the treatment of the racial question by the social sciences. Anthropologist Yasuko Takezawa and historian Jean-Frédéric Schaub have organized several seminars in Paris and Kyoto in order to confront, in a multidisciplinary spirit, different approaches to the racial question in Japan and France. From this collaborative work came a publication in the online journal The Zinbun Gakuho (人文学報, Journal of Humanities) and a volume in preparation at Kyoto University Press in Japanese.


This workshop is presented in two separate tracks: « Race and Civilization in Japan » and

« Construction and Use of Racial Difference ».


One does not write about race in Europe as one does in Japan or the United States. In each case, the construction of racial difference follows a specific logic. Meiji Japan imported from the West a new way of producing otherness, while Spain drew from its history the concept of « purity of blood » that simultaneously fed Basque separatism and central nationalism. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, other European countries, including France and Italy, clothed the concept of race with a legal and pseudo-scientific apparatus backed by colonial practice, which in turn found resonance in Japan. These singular processes, with their echoes and exchanges, are here explored and compared.


Coordinated by Yasuko Takezawa (Kyoto University)

and Jean-Frédéric Schaub (EHESS)