On its own, the introduction of the brush into children's art education in Japanese and Arabic designs in Egypt exemplifies “an aesthetic discourse of indigeneity,” writes Raja Adal; in a global comparative context, however, it “point[s] to more than the rise of national forms of aesthetic expression” (pp. 140–41). From a global perspective, the particular, articulated in aesthetic terms and cast as uniquely Japanese or distinctly Egyptian, emerges as decidedly mimetic.

These transnational and global dynamics animate Adal's impressively researched, lucidly argued, and elegantly written study of the histories of aesthetic education in Japan and Egypt from the 1870s to the end of World War II. The rise of border-crossing forms of knowledge is the most significant development in Japan studies in recent years, part of a powerful paradigm shift against the geopolitically driven approaches of “area studies,” for which the nation-state was the sole validating category and the teleologies...

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