全学自由研究ゼミナール (East-West Interactions and the Formation of Modern Societies)
East-West Interactions and the Formation of Modern Societies
In the first instance, this seminar discusses how East-West interactions took place in the course of modern history, and how specific processes of interaction shaped modern societies. While starting with some of the epistemological problems of how to conceptualise East and West in the first place, and the implications of such concepts, our main focus will be on the formation of East Asian societies and the problems surrounding the integration of these "modernised" societies into the international order, the latter also undergoing significant change in this process. Topics will include: the dichotomies between (what are deemed) universal values on one hand and traditional social institutions on the other; the uneasy relationships between "modernisation" "westernisation" and "colonisation" in these societies; intellectual attempts to categorise and compare different civilisations; and how Myth, Memory and History are manipulated and recycled in such attempts. At a slightly deeper level, we aim to delve into some of the central issues related to how a student (or future graduate of this university) might form her/his intellectual identity as an individual who: a) was educated in a Japanese university, becoming part of Japanese society in the process; but b) wishes to operate in a global context, primarily (for better or for worse) in the English language. In this latter context, it will often fall on that future graduate to explain aspects of Japanese (or perhaps more widely East Asian) cultures and societies, and this will have to be done using a relatively universal language of concepts and categories, originating in European thought. In this seminar we will attempt to understand both the historical experiences of East Asian societies and the implications of the formation and existence of such a language.