Plants, Germs, and Animals: They Want to Be in History, Too!

Fa-ti Fan, Binghamton University

Maki Fukuoka, The Premise of Fidelity: Science, Visuality, and Representing the Real in Nineteenth-Century Japan. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2012. 304 pp. $45 (cloth/e-book).

William C. Summers, The Great Manchurian Plague of 1910–1911: The Geopolitics of an Epidemic Disease. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2012. 216 pp. $40 (cloth).

Ian Jared Miller, The Nature of the Beasts: Empire and Exhibition at the Tokyo Imperial Zoo. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013. 352 pp. $65 (cloth/e-book).

Article Preview

Environmental history, history of science, and animal studies are emerging trends in the historiography of modern East Asia, for good reason. Environmental concerns are prominent in the region today, and environmental factors are important to understanding its history. Science (together with technology) has been held up as the benchmark of modernity in East Asia for more than a century and has been fundamental to visions of the modern nation (consider, for example, Mr. Science in China’s May Fourth Movement). Animal studies is the newest of these trends. This field has gained notice only in recent years, yet there are signs that it is becoming a popular topic...