Date: 24 November 2016
The standoff between North Korea and South Korea has continued for more than six decades, dividing the peninsula into two nations with opposing ideologies. According to Sheila Miyoshi Jager, Professor of East Asian Studies at Oberlin College in Ohio, this continuing confrontation, long studied as part of the Cold War, should be investigated and interpreted as a historical phenomenon in its own right, one that continues to influence the international relations in East Asia long after the Cold War ended.
Professor Jager based her talk on her recent book, Brothers at War: The Unending Conflict in Korea (W.W. Norton/Profile Books). She outlined the main historical approaches to the Korean War (1950-1953). She then pointed out to the main deficiency of these perspectives: they all focus on the three years of “proxy war” but fail to make sense of the six decades of ceaseless confrontation since the guns stopped firing.
The stimulating presentation by Professor Jager was followed by a spirited discussion between the speaker and the audience that included the Project team, as well as guests from the faculty and the members of the public.
Date: 18 November 2016
In this guest talk, Professor Philip Seaton of Hokkaido University combined his latest research on Japanese war memory with observations on a trip around five islands in the Seto Inland Sea in Japan. He introduced, then challenged the concept of “dark tourism” that serves as an umbrella term to cover a diverse range of tourist activities to places associated with war, trauma and suffering.
Professor Seaton demonstrated, based on his research trip to five islands in the Seto Inland Sea, that the memories of war and empire associated with these islands inspired more than simply dark emotions in the tourists that travel to these islands each year. He specifically mentioned the ways in which some of the tangible remnants of war and empire have been given new lease of life in popular culture: by groups of anime fans who connected them with their favourite works of art, or by schoolchildren on excursions to museums that document the problematic past of the islands in question. These and other ideas presented by the guest speaker inspired a lively discussion with the audience.
Date: 9-12 December 2016
Location: Cambridge University, UK
This international conference aimed to generate new dialogues on the history of the collapse of the Japanese empire. It did so by gathering in Cambridge a diverse group of scholars who work on a wide variety of historical and geographical perspectives, focusing on China, Japan, Korea (South and North), and Taiwan, and researching aspects of military demobilization, law and responsibility, the reorganization of authority and new political ideologies, transformations in postwar socieites, cultures, and many related topics.
The underlying theme of the discussions was the way in which the collapse of the Japanese empire affected the region, and how a host of different and often competing groups struggled to remap and revision East Asia in the aftermath of the end of empire.
Over three days, twenty-five scholars from Asia, Europe and North America divided into eight panels were joined by the Project team and Cambridge-based historians and graduate students to engage in fruitful discussions. These were alternated by informal conversations and exchanges aimed at fostering scholarly collaboration and networking. As a result of the conference, the best presentations will be selected for publication in two edited volumes, leading to valuable contributions to existing literature on the post-imperial reconstruction of East Asia.
Conference Materials (password protected)
Date: 8 November 2016
In this seminar Dr. Ito Mamiko, Associate Professor at Gakushuin University in Tokyo, presented her recent research into the history of the Japanese imperial expansion through the unique lens of national and international exhibitions. Surveying a century and a half of modern Japanese history from the Meiji Restoration of 1868 to the present day, Dr. Ito offered stimulating interpretations of the development of Japanese ideas of modernity, development and empire as seen in the various exhibition pavilions both in Japan and abroad.
Focusing especially on World Expositions (‘Expos’) held in the long period from the late nineteenth century to the early twenty-first, Dr. Ito underlined the international political, economic and propaganda implications of these international events. She connected the decisions to participate in these exhibitions to the domestic economic and political realities, drawing attention to the willingness of the Japanese leadership to advance the image of ‘modern Japan’ on the world stage by investing, even at times of economic hardship, in participation in – and organisation of – international exhibitions. The guest lecture, which was held in Japanese, served as a unique opportunity for the Project team and the Faculty members to engage in a fruitful and stimulating discussion.
Date: 31 October 2016
The histories of war crimes tribunals often revolve around a familiar set of defendants: military and sometimes civilian leaders, officers of various ranks, ordinary soldiers and civilians in military employ. Interpreters, however, represent one group of convicts whose experiences and roles in military tribunals have been largely unstudied. Research into the fates of Japanese and other East Asian interpreter-convicts at various Class B/C war crimes trials against the Japanese following the World War II could broaden our understanding of the multinational, multi-layered processes of bringing to justice the agents of Japanese Empire.
Dr Kayoko Takeda, a Professor of Translation and Interpreting Studies in the College of Intercultural Communication at Rikkyo University in Tokyo, has long studied the role of translators and interpreters in history. In a research seminar with the ERC Project Team and other members of the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Dr Takeda talked about tribunals that brought Japanese interpreters into the courtroom not only in the capacity of linguistic mediators between defendants and the prosecution, but very often as defendants themselves. Locating this phenomenon in the broader international framework of military tribunals, Dr Takeda presented her analysis of the complicated business of establishing order and justice in post-imperial East Asia. The guest talk was followed by a lively discussion and a dinner with the guest speaker.