Positioning Japan in Transpacific Histories of Labour, Migration and Environmental Change

Programme summary

Funded by the Kyoto University–University of Zurich General Funding Scheme (2021), the initial step of this collaboration will be a joint-BA seminar in autumn 2021 on the theme of settler colonialism: that is, the form of colonialism in which the key actors are less state or military officials than farmers and other settlers who live and claim land at the borders of the colonial state. Settler colonialism has particularly been studied in Anglo-Australian or Anglo-American contexts, but scholars have recently demonstrated the extent to which these models influenced forms of Japanese colonialism, not only in the formal colonies of Taiwan, Korea or Manchuria, but also in the Asia-Pacific world. Indeed, a new body of research has begun to argue that Japanese plantation workers and small-scale farmers may be considered "settlers" even in polities where Japan exercised no formal control. Our seminar, to be taught in five online blocks in November, will discuss the merits and historical implications of this new research by focusing on four sites around the Asia-Pacific world, namely Hawai'i; Singapore and Southeast Asia; Australia and the Arafura Sea; and the Pacific Northwest. Preparatory sessions—held simultaneously, but without video links—in October 2021 will prepare the student groups in UZH and Kyoto respectively for the joint sessions in November. In particular, we shall establish student study groups between the two universities, so that small groups of students can get to know each other and begin preparing for their oral presentations even before the formal joint sessions begin.