The seminar on 8 August was a great example of collaboration, between two schools (SOPHIS and JSC/LLCL) and two universities (Yale and Monash) as supported through the Focus Program!
Inclement weather didn't stop a good number of students and staff and guests from other universities joining us. Thanks to Adam Clulow (SOPHIS) for assisting with the logistics!
Social Justice, State Ideology and Japan's Meiji Restoration: Lessons from 1968
with Professor Daniel Botsman, Yale University
8 August 2018, 4 pm
Abstract: In 1968, at the time of the Japanese government’s official Meiji Centennial celebration, the historian Suzuki Ryō (1934-2015) published an article about the plight of a Hisabetsu Buraku community, which had been “forcibly relocated” in the 1910s because its presence was considered an insult to the nearby tomb of the Emperor Jinmu, mythical progenitor of Japan’s Imperial line. The tomb itself was a modern creation and for Suzuki the treatment suffered by this community provided a concrete example of the evils of the pre-war “Emperor system”. Fifty years later, as Japan’s current Emperor prepares to abdicate, and the Abe administration pushes once again to celebrate “the spirit of Meiji”, scholars such as Takagi Hiroshi have challenged key aspects of Suzuki’s work, but this talk aims to show that the issues it raised remain deeply relevant for our understanding of modern Japanese history.
Speaker Biography: Daniel Botsman is Professor of Japanese History at Yale University and Focus Professor at Monash University, Australia. His current research focuses primarily on the history of outcaste communities in Japan and the issue of animal-human relations during the transition to modernity. In the lead up to the Meiji Sesquicentennial, he has also been involved in several projects intended to promote critical scholarly reflection about the legacies of the Meiji period and its official commemoration.