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Conjuring Asia: Magic, Orientalism and the Making of the Modern World

Chris Goto-Jones

978 1 107 43382 3
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Publication date:
15 July 2016

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The promise of magic has always commanded the human imagination, but the story of industrial modernity is usually seen as a process of disenchantment. Drawing on the writings and performances of the so-called 'Golden Age Magicians' from the turn of the twentieth century, Chris Goto-Jones unveils the ways in which European and North American encounters with (and representations of) Asia - the fabled Mystic East - worked to re-enchant experiences of the modern world. Beginning with a reconceptualization of the meaning of 'modern magic' itself - moving beyond conventional categories of 'real' and 'fake' magic - Goto-Jones' acclaimed book guides us on a magical mystery tour around India, China and Japan, showing us levitations and decapitations, magic duels and bullet catches, goldfish bowls and paper butterflies. In the end, this mesmerizing book reveals Orientalism as a kind of magic in itself, casting a spell over Western culture that leaves it transformed even today.


Chris Goto-Jones was educated at the Universities of Cambridge, Keio, and Oxford. He is the Inaugural Chair Professor of Comparative Philosophy and Political Thought at Universiteit Leiden, Professorial Research Associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford. He was previously Professor of Modern Japan Studies, Director of the Modern East Asia Research Centre, Leiden, and Founding Dean of Leiden University College, The Hague. In addition, he is an Associate of the Inner Magic Circle. He is co-founder of the 'Political and Philosophical Arts Initiative' and a 'VICI' laureate of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). He has published widely in the fields of political thought, comparative philosophy, and Asian studies; in terms of popularizing publications, he is author of A Very Short Introduction to Modern Japan (2009), which has been translated into many languages worldwide.



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