CfP: “Borders of memory: national commemoration in East Asia”, December 2016 (Fukuoka)

Sponsored by the War Memoryscapes in Asia Project (WARMAP), British Association of Japanese Studies, Center for Asia-Pacific Future Studies and Kyushu University Border Studies.

Kyushu University, Nishijin Plaza, Fukuoka

December 17-18, 2016

On July 8 2015, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee officially added 23 Japanese locations, under the collective heading “Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining” – most of them here in Kyushu – to its registry of World Heritage sites. Previous months had seen strenuous protests by Korean and Chinese authorities opposing the nomination on the grounds that it ignored the wartime use at these sites of Chinese and Korean forced labor. They demanded as a minimum that the deaths and sufferings of these workers receive commemoration. The dispute served as a reminder that the supposedly ‘universal value’ of World Heritage is politically constructed, and that individual sites may be commemorated
for very different reasons by different constituencies or in different national contexts. The memories invoked by particular heritage sites do not necessarily cross national borders intact.

This conference will focus on East Asia’s current heritage boom, particularly as it relates to memories of war and conflict, situating it within a wider political and historical context. We are interested in examining how states in East Asia seek to shore up the borders of the nation through collective memorials, and how the national body is policed by prescribing the boundaries of acceptable memory. Other issues of interest include the cross-border or transnational commemoration of war heritage, and the related phenomenon of ‘dark tourism’. By bringing together an interdisciplinary group of scholars to reflect on how memories of conflict are transmitted, received and reinterpreted within and across East Asian societies, the conference will deepen and enrich our understanding of the significance of war heritage for contemporary national identities and international relations.

We invite interested scholars to submit abstracts (of up to 250 words) to the conference organizers by July 31, 2016. We are currently exploring several potential avenues for publication.

Note that while accepted applicants are primarily responsible for their own travel, accommodation and other expenses, there will be some limited funds available to support the attendance of graduate students or junior scholars.

Edward Vickers:

Ted Boyle:

or see the Call for Papers here: Borders of Memory – Kyushu University December 2016