Seminar Series

An Enlightened Society Full of Stereotypes: A Case of Early Modern England, c. 1550-1750

Thursday, 24 November 2022 | 9:00 - 10:00 (JST)
Zoom Webinar
  • Koji Yamamoto Associate Professor, Faculty of Economics, the University of Tokyo
  • Sawako Shirahase TCJS Director

Recent events like the Brexit referendum and the election of Donald Trump unleashed a wide range of stereotypes, including stereotypes of immigrants, of African Americans, of conservative southerners and of autocrats. The proliferation of stereotypes, however, is never a uniquely modern phenomenon. It was also a defining feature of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century England, what Jürgen Habermas once viewed as the origin of the public sphere. What does progress mean if stereotypes spread so widely today, as they did in the early modern period? Early modern people often appealed to reason and were preoccupied with the ‘advancement of learning’ and the promise of enlightenment. Yet that did not prevent stereotypes from spreading. Stereotyping was so pervasive and foundational to social life, and yet so liable to escalation, that collective engagements with it often ended up perpetuating the very processes of stereotyping. Engaging critically with recent works in social psychology and sociology, I explore broader implications of this finding for social sciences in general and Japan studies in particular.


Koji Yamamoto is an Associate Professor of Business History at the University of Tokyo. He is the author of Taming capitalism before its triumph (Oxford, 2018), and has also published articles in Historical Journal and English Historical Review. He is a founder of the Japanese grassroots organization Historians’ Workshop, a platform for preparing Japan-based early-career historians for a global academic arena. This talk draws on the recent volume of essay he has edited, ‘Stereotypes and Stereotyping in Early Modern England’.His next book project is a history of the South Sea Bubble, the first stock price bubble in history.

Just published |
(full book can be downloaded from bottom of link)