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By Ian Jared Miller

It is well known that such Western associations because the museum, the college, and the penal complex formed Japan’s emergence as a latest geographical region. much less quite often well-known is the position performed by way of the fairly hybrid institution—at as soon as museum, laboratory, and prison—of the zoological backyard. during this eye-opening research of Japan’s first smooth zoo, Tokyo’s Ueno Imperial Zoological Gardens, opened in 1882, Ian Jared Miller deals a refreshingly unconventional narrative of Japan’s speedy modernization and altering courting with the flora and fauna. because the first zoological backyard on the earth no longer outfitted below the sway of a Western imperial regime, the Ueno Zoo served not just as a staple appeal within the nation’s capital—an institutional marker of nationwide accomplishment—but additionally as a domain for the propagation of a brand new “natural” order that used to be scientifically verifiable and evolutionarily foreordained. because the eastern empire grew, Ueno turned one of many basic websites of imperialist spectacle, a microcosm of the empire which may be traveled during a unmarried day. The that means of the zoo might switch over the process Imperial Japan’s unraveling and next Allied profession. this present day it is still certainly one of Japan’s most often visited locations. yet rather than empire in its vintage political experience, it now bespeaks the ambivalent dominion of the human species over the common surroundings, harkening again to its imperial roots at the same time it asks us to query our exploitation of the planet’s resources.

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Nineteenth-century factories burned coal—fossilized sunshine, as one scholar has called it—and cities, as public health officials in Tokyo concerned with cholera bacilli and other opportunistic organisms knew all too well, can be fecund ecologies. 7 The Ueno Zoo was an especially public form of hybrid ecology. It was a manufactured environment, to be sure, but an environment nonetheless, and many of the cultural dynamics that concern us here played out in physical interactions between people and animals within that built environment.

More optimistically, increased vigilance through improved conservation legislation, especially from the 1970s to today, has also had an effect. 26 Human beings have altered the ecologies of the Japanese islands for as long as people have lived there, but those processes have been amplified dramatically by the same social and technological dynamics that drove Japan’s rapid material development. Ecological modernity was a handmaiden of industrialization. These environmental developments pose historical problems, and scholars have begun to recognize that the scale of the Anthropocene threatens to overwhelm traditional frameworks and methodologies of history writing.

At times animals figure as historical actors—as distinct from agents—in the stories recounted here, especially in later chapters, as dictated by available archival materials. Agency in its standard usage implies conscious, deliberative action. G. ”36 The study of animal cognition has developed considerably since Collingwood penned that sentence in 1946—we now know that crows, chimpanzees, and other species work with forethought and “mental maps”—but I do not follow the recent trend in some scholarship to ascribe thoughtful agency to animals.

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