「日本と太平洋と島々」/ Japan and the Pacific Ocean
This course aims to create a space for students from diverse backgrounds to work together to discover and explore unique historical associations between Japan, the Pacific Ocean and the countless islands in this ocean. Modern and contemporary Japan has been shaped by an array of catastrophic events unfolding in and across the Pacific, such as the arrival of the Black Ships, the explosion of nuclear armaments, the attack of Godzilla (!) and the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011. It has also been moulded by a variety of trans-Pacific practices initiated by the Japanese, ranging from emigration and colonial settlement across the islands and rims of this basin, the military occupation of ‘the South Seas’ (Nan’yō) and the Asia-Pacific war, to the postwar creation of regional forums like PECC that preceded today’s APEC and leisure tourism. Consequently, the Pacific Ocean is deeply inscribed in the identities of the people inhabiting the northwestern archipelagoes we stand on.
This course examines such multiple historical entanglements between Japan and the sea, simultaneously focusing on the question of what legacies they have left for the country and the people here. What material and psychological connections did cross-Pacific Japanese migrants create between their home and settlement countries, and what are today’s legacies of such connections? What memories have we inherited about the central Pacific islands which Japan administrated before and during the war? How have the people in Japan confronted or sought to coexist with the earthquake and tsunami? How and to what extent has March 2011 changed such consciousness for coexistence? More generally, in what ways have the people here imagined and represented the Pacific Ocean and the islands? How has such representation evolved and shifted? Students can approach these and many other questions from a variety of perspectives by examining, for example, relevant monuments, films, pictures and paints, narratives, and school textbooks, investigating the pertinent infrastructure that contributes to disaster prevention, exploring minority communities in Tokyo, or by conducting interviews etc (*certainly, all within the extent that does not take the high risks of Covid-19).
The course is a combination of in-class activity (i.e. lecture and discussion) and project-based group work initiated by students, with more stress on the latter. Teaching Assistants will provide advice and support for carrying out the group projects. All groups will participate in the final presentation at the end of the semester, which will take place at KOMCEE West Lecture Hall and will be open to public.