Herman Ooms

Lineages, Genealogies, Uji
A Discussion

  • Datum: Do., 12. Dezember 2013, 18:30
  • Ort: Institut für Ostasienwissenschaften, Japanologie, Seminarraum 1
  • AAKH Campus, Hof 2, Spitalgasse 2, 1090 Wien
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  • Organisation: Bernhard Scheid
  • Kooperation: Institut für Ostasienwissenschaften Universität Wien; Akademischer Arbeitskreis Japan (AAJ)



There seems to be no clear scholarly agreement on how to best translate uji 氏. Since questions of terminology often cannot be settled satisfactorily, it helps to bring into focus aspects of their genesis, especially since uji were shaped and made to function during the late seventh century, corralled by a new Japanese state. Ranked and assigned to official service, the future of uji was secured through modifications of Tang succession rules. They resembled a corporation, certainly formed a class, and started to be referred to by a modified Buddhist term with connotations of caste. At the same time, uji names, bestowed by the emperor, displayed some numinous qualities, as some examples from the seventh and eighth centuries illustrate.


Herman Ooms is professor emeritus at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He studied Philosophy, Anthropology, and Japanese History, receiving his PhD at the University of Chicago. In his research and teaching, he combines anthropological approaches, intellectual history, and critical theory. Among his numerous writings, one book on the intellectual history of the Tokugawa period (Tokugawa Ideology: Early Constructs, 1570-1680; Princeton University Press, 1985), and one on the ideologies of early Japanese state formation (Imperial Politics and Symbolics in Ancient Japan: The Tenmu Dynasty, 650-800; University of Hawai'i Press, 2009) have become particularly influential.