Editor: The following is an introduction to a new Japanese translation of The body multiple. It can be purchased through Suiseisha publishers, as part of their series on The Anthropological Turn.
In 1982/3 I spent the academic year in Paris. There I lived in the Cité Universitaire—student housing that was built in the aftermath of the 1914–1918 war as a contribution to global peace. The hope was that if young people, the elites of the near future, would immerse themselves in higher learning and live together in attractive surroundings, this would prevent further wars. For they would learn to think rationally and to talk with each other rather than to run after divided self-interests. Various countries had asked eminent architects to make designs. In one way or another, these represented the various participating nations. The buildings were mostly finished in the course of the nineteen thirties. Just a few years before another ravaging war divided the world.
Another hope that was broken. But I don’t want to talk about that war now, but about Hajime. He, too, lived that academic year in the Pavillon Néerlandais. His room was a few doors away from mine on the same corridor. Hajime came from Japan. He was the first person from that country with whom I had a chance to talk. He studied French literature and it became quickly clear that he knew a lot more about Europe than I knew about East Asia. My schooling of almost twenty years, I realised with a shock, had been strikingly provincial.