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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien


Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien
3-3-6 Kudan-Minami, Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo 102-0074
Tel: 03 – 3222 5077
Fax: 03 – 3222 5420


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Everybody is welcome to attend, but registration would be helpful:

Intellectuals, Technology, Imperialism

November 22, 2004 / 6 - 9 P.M.

YAMANE, Nobuhiro (Meiji Gakuin University)

 As historical criticism against the conspiracy between Nazism and the technocrats in the regime of Third Reich shows, technology is not free from ethical issues, even if it is supposedly regarded as neutral. It also can be said in the case of the ontological relations between the Western subject and Heideggerian idea of techne or Foucauldian idea of bio-political power. However, it is not so easy to articulate how this kind of ethical responsibility can be problematized in the work of technology. In this session, rather than theoretical arguments on technology and ethical-ontological issues, we would like to problematize technology from the viewpoint of the historical formation of later capitalism, especially, of imperialism. In short, we will examine how technocrats engage national projects through their work. Moreover, through technology, we will explore what kind of role is enacted by intellectuals in the formation process of nation states and in the mobilization of imperialism and colonialism.

In order to clarify this focus, let us exemplify the case of Yanaihara Tadao (1893-1961), a kind of pioneering scholar of colonial policies, who tried to establish the research of colonial administration as social science. In his argument of three types of colonial policies, apart from the policy of “subordination” ruled by power and that of “assimilation” based on a blending of different cultures, Yanaihara highly idealized that of “voluntarism” constituted of mutual cooperation by independent societies. Based on this principle, despite that Yanaihara held a critical view on colonial policies of Japanese Imperialism, however, at the same time he thought that the formation of colonialism must be regarded as “a social fact.” Yanaihara stated that it could be only possible to turn research of colonialism and colonial policies into social science when the research was based on the viewpoint of “colonialism as a social fact.” Here, Yanaihara articulated a new kind of definition of “fact” and “science.” In spite of critiquing the phenomenon of colonialism, Yanaihara tried to deal with it as an independent field of social research, differentiated from other fields. Moreover, in this gesture, Yanaihara tried to demonstrate that colonialism is “a social fact.” This sense of comprehension is not meant only a neutral position, but a strong desire for social consensus. Rather, this comprehension is guaranteed by “finality” which is accompanied with historical progress. Based on this belief of “finality,” Yanaihara can rationalize his research of colonial policies /administrations as mobilization of manpower and social resources in colonized areas as well as a performance of technology. In this sense, through technology, elevated to social science, scholars such as Yanaihara accelerated policies of imperialism and colonialism as a realization of “a kingdom of finality.”  

 In this session, by highlighting the relations between imperialism, its bio-political function and intellectuals as above, we would like to examine how these relations were constituted in a historical process by following three presentations.