Traces of Empire on Islands of Memory: Guest Talk by Professor Philip Seaton

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.