In this powerful and provocative book, Prasenjit Duara uses the case of Manchukuo, the Japanese puppet state in northeast China from 1932-1945, to explore how such antinomies as imperialism and nationalism, modernity and tradition, and governmentality and exploitation interacted in the post-World War I period. His study of Manchukuo, which had a population of 40 million and was three times the area of Japan, catalyzes a broader understanding of new global trends that characterized much of the twentieth century. Asking why Manchukuo so desperately sought to appear sovereign, Duara examines the cultural and political resources it mobilized to make claims of sovereignty. He argues that Manchukuo, as a transparently constructed "nation-state," offers a unique historical laboratory for examining the utilization and transformation of circulating global forces mediated by the "East Asian modern." Sovereignty and AUthenticity not only shows how Manchukuo drew technologies of modern nationbuilding from China and Japan, but it provides a window into how some of these techniques and processes were obscured or naturalized in the more successful East Asian nation-states. With its sweepingly original theoretical and comparative perspectives on nationalism and imperialism, this book will be essential reading for all those interested in contemporary history.
Sovereignty and Authenticity is a tour de force, covering and illuminating an astonishing amount of ground. By plunging in depth into the detail of Manchukuo, Duara elucidates the universal dilemmas of modernity.--Gavan McCormack, The Australian National University