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Empire of Dogs


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Table of Contents

Introduction: Canine Imperialism
1. The Native Dog and the Colonial Dog
2. Civilizing Canines; or, Domesticating and Destroying Dogs
3. Fascism's Furry Friends: The "Loyal Dog" Hachiko and the Creation of the "Japanese" Dog
4. Dogs of War: Mobilizing All Creatures Great and Small
5. A Dog's World: The Commodification of Contemporary Dog KeepingNotes

About the Author

Aaron Herald Skabelund is Associate Professor of History at Brigham Young University.


"Dogs are not average animals. They are placed between human culture and animal culture; uniquely, the author claims. And so this book muses on the meaning of domestication and civilization too. Utterly idiosyncratic, there won't be another study like it. After Skabelund, the Japanese Akita joins the German Shepherd and the English Bulldog as nationalism takes canine form."

* Times Literary Supplement *

"There is much to be learned about a society from a dog's eye view.... Readers need not be dog lovers to appreciate this dogged and deft analysis of empire and its social and cultural repercussions, but those so inclined will find a rewarding trove of lore about dogs in Japan."

* The Japan Times *

"This book's delightful anecdotes, absorbing illustrations, and rich description remind us of the complex, non-human dimensions of our histories. There is much in this volume to charm even those not born in the Year of the Dog."

* The American Historical Review *

"Apart from the great variety of sources deployed in analysis, and the range of beautiful illustrations, one of the great strengths of Skabelund's study is that the Japanese dog story is placed throughout the book in comparative perspective. The book is not just about Japan, although Japan is central, but it is about the transformation of dogs as part of the new imperialism of the nineteenth century and as part of the rise of mass societies in the twentieth century.... Skabelund's ability to weave these stories effortlessly together, and thus to weave the story of Japan's imperialism into its global context, is one of the truly enjoyable aspects of the book."

* Japanese Studies *

"Aaron H. Skabelund's volume breaks fertile ground. Taking the dog as his muse, he documents key sociopolitical developments under which this most ubiquitous companion animal has at once bolstered, and suffered in the name of, human progress...we have Skabelund to thank for starting the conversation in a Japan-centered historiography that warrants future comparative study."

* Society & Animals *

"There are few oblique references and the author knits the themes of race, species, power, representation and the history of socio-cultural politics together in a clear, elucidating, and thoroughly thought provoking way... it must be said at the book also contains a wry wit that makes it all the more enjoyable and the reader all the more motivated to flip the pages. Given these qualities, readers with an interest in a uniquely contextualized history of modern Japan or in the history of Japan's domestic dog species will find it to be a valuable reference."

* Social Science Japan Journal *

"InEmpire of Dogs, an investigation of the history of dogs in imperial Japan, Aaron Skabelund sets out to 'highlight the concrete uses of dogs, to talk about actual dogs, and to show how their actions were related to their metaphorical deployment in discussions about nation, race, class, and gender in the imperial and postcolonial world' (p. 17).. Empire of Dogsis a well-researched and highly readable treatise on the particularities of dogs in Japan from the 1850s through the first half of the twentieth century."

* Monumenta Nipponica *

"In this illustrated, easy-to-read, and well-documented book, Skabelund shows how Japan's embrace of Western dog-keeping traditions and perceptions was emblematic of its rise as a modern imperial nation. In doing so, he contributes a noteworthy chapter to the multifaceted story of human/canine partnerships."

* The Bark *

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