In this talk I will introduce my current research on spatial production in modern East Asia, more specifically the origin and operations of the idea “the Underside of Japan” or “Ura-Nihon” in 20th-century Japan and northeast Asia. The term refers to the Sea of Japan side of the Japanese archipelago in contrast to the area facing the Pacific Ocean, known as the Upper-side (Omote-Nihon). The project looks into how “the Underside of Japan” emerged in the context of late Meiji industrialization, and how it came to be identified, in spatial proximity and ideological association with the Asian continent, as bleak, stagnant, and backward in contradistinction to the bright and progressing Upper-side, the embodiment of Japan’s modernity. After the Russo-Japanese War (1904-5), the “Underside of Japan” served to connect the Japan, now popularized as the Upper-side of Asia, to the continent as Asia’s Underside, generating arguments and policies of imperialist expansions. This project eventually proposes that this distinctive modern mode of demarcating the Japanese archipelago is constitutive and indicative of a deep ambiguity (or tension) in the historical experience of Japan as both a nation-state and an empire, and as both an Asian and a Western(ized) country.
Prof Yijiang ZHONG is professor at the Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, The University of Tokyo.
07.11.2017 | 12:00 c.t.
Ostasiatisches Seminar - Japanologie
Hittorfstr. 18, Raum 1.36 (1. OG)