15past15 logo & text


15past15 is a new podcast which discusses how the past is made, and by whom.

Its first season focuses on history and history-writing in East Asia, from the sixteenth century to today. Interviewees debate the indigenous historical traditions of China and Japan in particular, and the ways that understandings of the past evolved at times of acute political and societal change. Our contributors teach East Asian and global history at leading universities in Germany, France, the UK, Spain, Switzerland, the USA and Canada, and they manage—just about—to stick to a fifteen-minute format. Interviews will be released weekly from 15 January 2019.

15past15 has been made possible by a Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA) grant.



Episode1: Introducing 15past15

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15 January 2019   |   Martin Dusinberre and Birgit Tremml Werner introduce 15past15



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Episode 2: Confucius's Comeback


15 January 2019   |   Joachim Kurtz discusses the changing ways in which Confucius has been understood in the last five hundred years—from “philosopher” to “Chinese” sage whose teachings are incompatible with Western modernity. Interviewed by Martin Dusinberre.




info | download (MP3, 23747 KB)

Episode 3: When did Taiwan Begin?


22 January 2019   |   Leigh Jenco considers what debates about the history of Taiwan in seventeenth-century China bring to our theoretical understanding of imperialism. Interviewed by Martin Dusinberre and Birgit Tremml Werner.




info   |   download (MP3, 24585 KB)

Episode 4: Translating the Republic of Letters


29 January 2019   |  David Mervart traces the entanglements of foreign trade and book collecting in so-called “closed Japan”, and the ways that Japanese translators came to conceive of—and embody—the republic of letters. Interviewed by Martin Dusinberre and Birgit Tremml Werner.


info   |   download (MP3, 24157 KB)

Episode 5: China in Japan's Modern Time


5 February 2019   |   Stefan Tanaska suggests that Japanese intellectuals “discovered” Japan’s past in the mid-nineteenth century, both by reconsidering China’s place in the world and by thinking about time in new ways.

Interviewed by Martin Dusinberre and Birgit Tremml Werner.


info   |   download (MP3, 23122 KB)

Episode 6: Professionalising Japan's Past


12 February 2019   |  Lisa Yoshikawa illustrates how academic historians in modern Japan used the professionalisation of studying and writing about the past to establish politically opportune narratives for a modern imperial state.

Interviewed by Birgit Tremml Werner and Martin Dusinberre.


info   |  download (MP3, 22949 KB)

Episode 7: The Columbus of Japan


19 February 2019   |   Birgit Tremml Werner introduces Yamada Nagamasa (1590-1630), whom some scholars called the “Columbus of Japan” in the 1940s—a label, she argues, which tells us as much about twentieth-century as seventeenth-century history. Interviewed by Joachim Kurtz and Martin Dusinberre.


info   |   download (MP3, 23749 KB)

Episode 8: Misreading the Macartney Mission


26 February 2019

Episode 9: Persuasion with China's Past


5 March 2019

Episode 10: Writing Women in late-Qing China


12 March 2019

Episode 11: Chinese Utopias


19 March 2019

Episode 13: China's Renaissance


2 April 2019

Episode 14: Japan and the Pacific Age


9 April 2019

Episode 15: Exhibiting China and Japan


16 April 2019

Episode 12: Whose Renaissance?


26 March 2019