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Machiavelli and Machiavellism in Japan: 1868-1968. For an Intellectual History of Realism from its Outskirts


The project studies the fortune in the modern and contemporary Japanese culture (1868-1968) of the notion of Machiavellian realism—the representation of Machiavelli as the father of modern Realpolitik. The analysis will focus, in particular, on the relationship between realism and conflict, which has been fundamental in the nineteenth and twentieth century historiography on Machiavelli as well as in the Japanese discourse on national identity. The inquiry will not address the Japanese interpretations of Machiavelli as an isolated case, but will explore their relations to the wider consideration that the Italian thinker enjoyed in the West, especially in the US and Italy. Through the study of the transfers, exchanges, and interactions between the Japanese interpreters and their European and American colleagues, we aim at sketching a global history of Machiavellism and modern realism from the eccentric perspective of Japan. Our expectation is that, by doing so, we will be able to question some of the fundamental assumptions lying behind the conception of realism as it established itself in mainstream modern politics. In the proposed project, supervision by an expert in Machiavelli and a theorist and methodologist of Global Intellectual History will help the experienced researcher, who has a background both in early modern Italian thought and Japanese intellectual history, to produce a truly global reflection without loosing theoretical depth and historical accuracy. The final goal is to reach out to a wide audience of academics, non-academic experts of foreign policies and interested laymen, showing the potential for intellectual history to contribute to extra-academic debates on global politics. Training will not only focus on specific skills and knowledge within the fields of Renaissance Studies and Global History, but also in the writing and management of research projects, allowing the experienced researcher to step forward with his career towards tenure track.

Call for proposal

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Rue Blaise Pascal 4
67081 Strasbourg
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 196 707,84