Margaret Mehl

Published On


Page Range

pp. 1–28


  • English

Print Length

28 pages


The Introduction outlines the case for treating music, in the broad sense of music-related activities, as part of the general history of human activity, with reference to relevant (albeit scarce) scholarship. The author argues that examining music provides a valuable path to understanding global processes such as globalization in the sense of global integration, and the formation of national identity. The main argument is stated, namely that music was central to the making of modern Japan, and a brief chapter-by-chapter outline relates their respective topics to the overall theme.
The main section of the book is divided into three interconnected parts, relating to the global, the national, and the local level. Globalization and nation-building, two major trends in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, can only be fully understood if developments in the different and diverse localities within the nation’s borders are taken into account: a nation-state has to unite the people within its borders. The chapters in Part Three are central to the book (which is reflected in their length and level of detail), because it is at the local level that we see most clearly the vital role played by music in drawing together the Japanese people in order to actively participate in the nation as well as experiencing themselves as part of a world of nation. It is also at the local level that the importance of personal initiative by individuals is most evident.


Margaret Mehl

Associate Professor at University of Copenhagen

Margaret Mehl is a historian of modern Japan with a special interest in musical culture. She is currently an Associate Professor at the University of Copenhagen, having previously held appointments at the universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Stirling, and Berlin. As well as a doctorate from the University of Bonn, Margaret Mehl holds a Dr. Phil. (Habilitation) from the University of Copenhagen. She has lived and worked in Japan as a researcher on several occasions, where she has had affiliations with the University of Tokyo, and with Waseda University. Margaret Mehl has published widely on the history of historiography, education, and music in modern Japan. Her previous books include History and the State in Nineteenth-Century Japan (which has been translated into Japanese), Private Academies of Chinese Learning in Meiji Japan: The Decline and Transformation of the Kangaku Juku, and Not by Love Alone: The Violin in Japan, 1850–2010. When she is not reading, writing or teaching, Margaret Mehl enjoys playing her violin and has performed in amateur orchestras and chamber ensembles in several countries.