Call for Papers for Sessions on Heritage, Kyushu University, July 18-19 2020

Call for Papers

“Heritage, conflicted sites and bordered memories in Asia”

Sessions Sponsored by the British Association of Japanese Studies

Kyushu University, Nishijin Plaza, Fukuoka

July 18-19, 2020

On July 18 and 19, Kyushu University will host a two-day international conference on “Identity Politics and the Challenges of Cultural Diversity Across Contemporary Asia”. As part of the program, we will organize a number of sessions with the collective title of “Heritage, conflicted sites and bordered memories in Asia”. These sessions will examine issues of Heritage in contemporary Asia, and will build upon the results of an earlier conference held at Kyushu University in December 2016, on “Borders of Memory”.

Together with the tension emerging from UNESCO recognition accorded particular sites of national heritage in East Asia, there has been increased interest in the possibilities for heritage serving as “cosmopolitan” sites of memory, ones able to transcend national boundaries and function within different mnemonic communities. In these sessions, we are particularly interested in the ways that heritage, and its specific material manifestations, works as a means of transcending borders for memory collectives, whether national or local.

The borders referred to here are both spatial and temporal. One concern is the relation between heritage and spatial division, how particular sites of memory are able to speak to communities located in distinct, and frequently antagonistic, national spaces. A second series of borders in which we are particularly interested are the ways sites of heritage “concretize” narratives across temporal boundaries, providing the material foundations for the channelling of contemporary claims about the past.

In bringing together an interdisciplinary group of scholars to reflect on how memories are made, materialized and memorialized within and across societies, these sessions will deepen and enrich our understanding of the significance of heritage for national identities and international relations in the Asia-Pacific and beyond.

We invite interested scholars to submit abstracts (of up to 250 words) to the session organizer by March 31, 2020.

Thanks to the generosity of the British Association of Japanese Studies, who will sponsor these sessions on Heritage, there will be three awards (of 25,000 JPY each) available to support the attendance of graduate students or early career scholars. Please indicate if you wish to be considered for these awards when submitting your abstract.

Contact:

Ted Boyle: boyle@law.kyushu-u.ac.jp

Borders of Memory

The Japan Forum Special Issue that grew out of the Borders of Memory conference in December 2016 if finally about to see the light of day.

It consists of four excellent articles on the Maizuru Repatriation Museum, Miike (one of the 23 Meiji Industrial Sites recognized in 2015), Ainu remains and the new Ainu Museum at Shiraoi (scheduled to open in April 2020), and the Okinawa Peace Park.

Many thanks to all of the authors, Jonathan Bull, Atsuko Hashimoto, Steve Iving, Yusuke Matsuura, Naohiro Nakamura & David Telfer. Further details at: https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rjfo20/31/3?nav=tocList

If you want a copy of the (lengthy) introduction by yours truly, drop me a line.

Countdown to the opening of the new Ainu museum at Shiraoi, located at the entrance of the Akarenga building. Now a tourist attraction, the former Hokkaido government office was a key symbol of Japanese modernity in Hokkaido.

Yaeyama Trip 2018

On August 28-30 2018, I was lucky enough to visit the islands of Ishigaki and Hateruma in Okinawa. These two islands are part of the southernmost group of islands in the prefecture, collectively known as the Yaeyamas.

Tojin-baka, a memorial to shipwrecked Chinese from Amoy shipwrecked and later slaughtered on Ishigaki in 1852. The memorial was first constructed in 1971 and renewed in 1992.

The trip formed part of a project being conducted by a six-member group led by Professor Koji Furukawa, of Chukyo University, which was looking to undertake “Comparative border research on island countries and regions of the Asia-Pacific: the Yaeyamas and Palau”. This research was funded for the years 2018-2019 by a Ryukyu University Research Institute for Islands and Sustainability (RIIS) Research Grant. Within the project, I was granted responsibility for examining notions of War Memory and Heritage, which allowed for me to examine these areas through the lens provided by the concept of Borders of Memory.

Peace Memorial at Japan’s Southernmost point, on Hateruma Island.

However, my interest in these marginal spaces of the nation is not limited to their material capture in heritage memorials, and also includes how such spaces operate and exist within the national imagination today. This is particularly through examining infrastructure, the various means through which island spaces are tied into the state’s national body, whether through (mothballed) airports or something as banal as manhole covers.

Manhole cover on Hateruma, ‘Japan’s Southernmost point where the Southern Cross glitters’.

The existence of this island of Hateruma as the edge of the nation comes also to be tied into more global questions, as the island hosts a key institution of Japan’s Center for Global Environmental Research, monitoring environmental change, particularly changes in greenhouse gas concentrations, from this remote corner of the nation (see on this
http://db.cger.nies.go.jp/gem/en/warm/Ground/st01.html).

Hateruma Global Environment Monitoring Station

Cross-cutting borders

Particularly interesting is the way in which the spatially- and temporally-distinct ways in which these islands relate to the national and prefectural stories that they reference in their heritage. One aspect of this is the invocation of Hateruma as Japan’s southernmost point, a claim which obviously ignores not only the prefecture’s forceful incorporation in 1879, but the 35 years of American military rule after 1945. The ending of the latter is celebrated in a number of monument’s at the island’s southern point, most notably in the serpentine sculpture that ties stones from all of Japan’s prefectures to Hateruma’s soil.

Reversion Monument, Hateruma

The Yaeyamas are also distinguished by their memory of the War itself. The cataclysmic carnage of Okinawa’s experience is well-known, but the Yaeyama tragedy was distinct, with the forced removal of the island group’s population to malaria-infested areas and subsequent deaths of many of them. This is commemorated in the small Peace Museum in Ishigaki, latterly run as a branch museum of the main institution on Okinawa itself, as well as at a relatively new monument in Banna Park on Ishigaki Island.

Memorial to the Victims of Malaria, Banna Park, Ishigaki Island

Conveniently reflecting the ambiguity of notions of Japan in thinking about the Yaeyamas, a few weeks before our visit had seen an incident of vandalism occur at yet another monument at the southernmost point of Hateruma Island, with the scars still clearly visible on its flag. This conveniently captures the complex and contradictory ways in which the nation, and the island’s place in them, comes to be memorialized in the present.

Our 13th Border Bite is now available

Hot on the heels of last week’s succulent offering, our 13th Border Bite is a substantial morsel from Ed Pulford, JSPS Postdoctoral Fellow at the Slavic-Eurasian Research Center, Hokkaido University, who provides us with a tasty treat in his analysis of the remote Hokkaido town of Nemuro’s position at the centre of Japan’s leading edge, its Northern Territories dispute with Russia. Touching on the malleability of political space, importance of vision and cognition, and paradoxical position of Nemuro within this dispute, where it both decries and depends upon its place at the border, there is plenty for everyone to get their teeth into. We hope you enjoy.

All the Bites are available HERE