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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien

Julian Plenefisch

Japanese Studies, History
(PhD Students, October 1, 2012 - February 28, 2013)

  • Political and Intellectual History of Early Modern and Modern Japan
  • Politics of Post-war Japan
  • Fascism Theories, Global History, Modernity and History

The historiography on Tokugawa-Japan’s integration into global entanglements commonly starts with the arrival of the US-navy in 1853 and the “opening” of Japan one year later. The thesis questions this paradigm. It understands the history of societies as history of global entanglements. These entanglements produce cultural adaption but also accentuation of distinctions. Because of European colonialism in the 19th century this dialectic aspect of trans-cultural interactions became a global phenomenon.

Since 1792 the Russians pushed the Tokugawa domain Matsumae to open their ports. In 1806/07 the Russian ships raided Japanese settlements on the Kuril Islands. These events lead to the “Edict to Repel Foreign Vessels” in 1825 and to the shooting at the USS Morrison in 1837 by Uraga costal defenses. In 1839-42 the First Opium War shocked Japanese intellectuals as European troops defeated China.

Therefore the thesis asks, what kind of discourses the early Western engagements into the Japanese area started among Japanese intellectuals. Did early 19th century intellectuals’ consciousness develop to a more global understanding of the world and a new sense of distinction, i.e. a sense of a Japanese nation, because of Western encounters? To answer this question sources by intellectuals, like academic and political papers, maps, images etc., will be analyzed regarding a change in their understanding of the epistemological categories “world”, “Japan”, and “nation”.

Julian Plenefisch is Research Fellow at the Institute of East Asian Studies at Freie Universität Berlin. He studied History and Japanese Studies at Freie Universität Berlin and received his MA in 2009. In 2010 he has been a short-term Guest Lecturer at SOAS, University of London, and from January to March 2012 a Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of Social Sciences (ISS), Tokyo University, on the Toshiba International Foundation Scholarship.