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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien

Reik Jagno

Since May 2017
(PhD Students, May 1, 2017 - December 31, 2017)

Exploring knowledge transfer in late Meiji time between Japan and Germany

This work aims at examining an important chapter of German-Japanese knowledge transfer history. To this end, three scientists were selected for an in depth study. The main focus is on Georg Würfel. He came as a missionary and stayed as a teacher in Japan. Due to his remaining in Japan as well as to the remoteness of Sendai, Würfel is one of the most unknown German teachers in Japan at the time. We know from reports on his funeral that he was very highly regarded, but he is not mentioned in any of the sources from the Germans in Japan at that time, despite his thirty years in Japan.

Furthermore, this dissertation is not only intended to examine a central chapter of the German-Japanese transfer of knowledge, but to contribute to the question of how different types of knowledge transfer can be observed. It is an initial hypothesis that the German-Japanese transfer differs from the colonial transfer of knowledge as well as from the kind of transfer observed within European nations in the 19th century. This, according to the initial consideration, was due to the fact that Japan, like the Ottoman Empire, was seen as a “civilization”. Japan was unique as it was located on an intermediate stage between colonies and European countries. If one wants to situate Japan on this field of research, the question arises as to which model of relationship is to be applied meaningfully: Can one speak here of a partial colonial relationship, as it is the case for the Ottoman Empire, or is the transfer of knowledge marked by factors which are neither known from the research on the “Colonial knowledge” nor from the studies on the Ottoman Empire?