“Memory is constantly on our lips because it no longer exists.”

“Memory is constantly on our lips because it no longer exists.”

Written by Pierre Nora in the first paragraph of his general introduction, ‘Between Memory and History’, the phrase argues that memory has been lost due to the acceleration of history, which has overtaken the “the equilibrium between the present and the past”. [1] An incorrect conclusion when we examine the demolition of the Japanese Government-General Building in Seoul in 1995. A building which was at the forefront of the debate over Japan’s legacy and visual memory in Korea, for its construction resulted in the partial destruction of Kyŏngbok Palace, a Chosŏn dynasty palace which was constructed in 1395. From GCB’s completion in 1927 it’s memory was contested on multiple levels; Korean architects, for example, saw it as an embodiment of early cosmopolitan architectural ideas, originating from Europe at the turn of the 20th century. [2] For many Koreans, however, it was a painful colonial legacy which was affecting the national spirit of the country and so needed to be demolished to allow for the restoration of the Kyŏngbok Palace. [3] A demand which is interesting to note as it demonstrates memory emerging victorious over history, for the historical significance of the Palace within Korean national identity before the construction of the GCB was minimal, having been abandoned for large parts of its history.

Nora had attempted to counter this, when he addressed the use of his work in understanding memory in Franco’s Spain. His criticism centred on the fact that the investigation was too contemporary and so did not fit the definition of the concepts he had provided for places as memory, a term he called ‘les lieux de mémoire’. [4] A defence which Eugenia Allier Montaño states, ignores the historiographical debates of the late sixties and seventies which affirmed the validity of studying history of the present. [5] This is important as the ‘les Lieux de mémoire’ provides a developed framework for spatial historians to explore sites of collective memory. For example, Nora requires places to be material, symbolical and functional, to allow memory to crystallise and secrete itself and so should not be limited by periodisation of the term. [6]

The Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall in Taipei stands testament to this argument; it is still a contested place of memory for many Taiwanese today. The site encompasses much of modern Taiwan’s collective memory, reminding many, through its design, the connection the nation has to the Chinese mainland, as well as serving for some as a painful legacy of occupation and oppression. [7]

Pierre Nora is right, history and memory can and do conflict, however, they are not binary opposites. Memory as I have shown has not lost out to history. Instead, often, the two work in tandem, allowing ‘les lieux de mémoire’ to offer unique insights into the collective past of social groups.

[1] Michael Rothberg, ‘Between Memory and Memory: From Lieux de mémoire to Noeuds de mémoire’, Yale French Studies 118/119 (2010), p. 4.

[2] Jung-sun Han, ‘Japan in the public culture of South Korea, 1945–2000s: The making and remaking of colonial sites and memories 1945-2000’, Asia-Pacific Journal 12:15:2, <https://apjjf.org/2014/12/15/Jung-Sun-Han/4107/article.html>[25 April 2020].

[3]Ibid.

[4] Eugenia Allier Montaño, ‘Places of memory. Is the concept applicable to the analysis of memorial struggles? The case of Uruguay and its recent past’, Cuadernos del Claeh 2:31:96-97 (2008) pp. 87-109, <http://socialsciences.scielo.org/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0797-60622008000100001#_ftn25>[25 April 2020].

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Marc Andre Matten, “The Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall in Taipei: A Contested Place of Memory” in Axel Schneider and Susanne Weigelin-Schwiedrzik (ed.), Places of Memory in Modern China: History, Politics, and Identity (Leiden, 2011), pp. 51-86.

Bibliography:

Han, Jung-sun, ‘Japan in the public culture of South Korea, 1945–2000s: The making and remaking of colonial sites and memories 1945-2000’, Asia-Pacific Journal 12:15:2, <https://apjjf.org/2014/12/15/Jung-Sun-Han/4107/article.html>[25 April 2020].

Matten, Marc Andre, “The Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall in Taipei: A Contested Place of Memory” in Axel Schneider and Susanne Weigelin-Schwiedrzik (ed.), Places of Memory in Modern China: History, Politics, and Identity (Leiden, 2011), pp. 51-86.

Montaño, Eugenia Allier, ‘Places of memory. Is the concept applicable to the analysis of memorial struggles? The case of Uruguay and its recent past’, Cuadernos del Claeh 2:31:96-97 (2008) pp. 87-109, <http://socialsciences.scielo.org/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0797-60622008000100001#_ftn25>[25 April 2020].

Rothberg, Michael, ‘Between Memory and Memory: From Lieux de mémoire to Noeuds de mémoire’, Yale French Studies 118/119 (2010), p. 3-12.

Defining the “Globetrotter” Phenomenon in late Nineteenth Century Japan

Japan’s growing tourism industry from the late nineteenth century through to the twentieth century has been written about in extensive detail. The features of the growing tourism industry may be defined through the “experiences of the globetrotters.”[1]As Allan Hockley’s essay has examined such a groups experiences, perceptions and impressions which were left behind.

However, when defining what in fact was meant by the term “Globetrotter”, Hockley has provided a number of examples in order to better understand the label, as well as its associated connotations. Through detailing the boom of Thomas Cook within the early 1870’s, Hockley designates the group as being wealthy individuals who embarked upon travel, made available due to improvements in transport links to Japan and other areas of the globe. He points out however that individuals did not have to travel to multiple places across the globe to earn the title of “Globetrotter”. The first use of the term arose in William Elliot Griffis employment of the term in his The Mikado’s Empire,1876, as Hockley has proposed. Griffis described the group as having “become so frequent and temporarily numerous in Yokohama as to be recognized as a distinct class.”[2] The issue was thus not the naming of said group, however the connotations which were associated with the group which were determined by “a manner of travel [through] commercial tours.”[3] Such publications were curtailed to enforce this manner of commercial travel such as W.E.L Keeling’s 1880 Tourists Guide to Yokohama.[4] Whilst this in itself may hardly be considered as negative, it was however viewed in this manner by critiques of the group such as Basil Chamberlain who saw such types of  travel as “ a superficial engagement with the places, people and culture one encountered.”[5]Thus, the term “Globetrotter” fell to the realms of largely negative responses from late nineteenth century travel writers within Japan at the time.

Bibliography

Hockley, Allan, ‘Globetrotters’ Japan: Places, Foreigners on the Tourist Circuit in Meiji Japan’ MIT Visualising Cultures, 2010, <https://visualizingcultures.mit.edu/gt_japan_places/ga2_essay01.html> [accessed April 2020].

 

[1] Allan, Hockley, ‘Globetrotters’ Japan: Places, Foreigners on the Tourist Circuit in Meiji Japan’ MIT Visualising Cultures, 2010, <https://visualizingcultures.mit.edu/gt_japan_places/ga2_essay01.html> [accessed April 2020].

 

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

Tokyo: Social Protests in an age of ‘Imperial Democracy’

Following the outcome of the Russo- Japanese War, growing dissatisfaction evolved from terms of the peace treaty, which saw an end to the war in 1905. The Treaty sparked rioting within Tokyo, culminating in the “first major social protest of the age of imperial democracy.”[1]Following a failure to obtain a substantial and “profitable peace settlement”, local factions with in Toyoko rebelled and were only quelled when the government were forced to enact martial law[2]. The demonstration on the 5th September 1905, became known as the Hibiya Riot, which would last for three days. As Andrew Gordon has described, this was “the first in a series of violent incidents that took place over the first and second decade of the century after which time social protests.. took on a more organised and less violent form.”[3]

 

As time progressed, social protests have been described by Andrew Gordon as taking on an increasingly organised approach as well as moving away from violence.It may well have been the intention of the protestors to move away from violence but the report from the Japan Chronicle published 5th June 1930 suggests that the response of the authorities was increasingly hard line and utilised excessive violence against the protestors, which created a violent incident. Following the article’s  title of “The New Weapon of the Tokyo Police”, the article alleges that the Metropolitan police service in Tokyo took on the role of aggressor by employing the use of tear-gas to quell what started as an orderly protest of Tokyo Communications Labour Union workers who had gathered near Hibiya Park. It was further reported that “soon orderliness, however, gave way to something alike to riot when the police strove to stem the march.”[4] It is questionable why in fact the Police had taken these steps to prevent the protest as the organisers had  discussed the protest  with the Metropolitan Police in a previous meeting. The use of tear-gas by the Police in order to disperse the crowds, was viewed as an intentional weapon by representatives of the Tokyo Communications Labour Union, who “filed a joint protest against the use of tear-gas revolvers by the Hibiya Police against the members of the Tokyo Communications Labour Union.”[5]

 

However, it was not the fact of the supposed use of the police’s “new weapon” in order to quell the demonstration which is illuminating, it is the apology which the police gave in light of the protest filed against its use. As the article goes on to examine, the apology given by the Police Bureau, suggests no remorse in the use of tear-gas as a weapon on protestors. Moreover, it details how explicitly “the Police Bureau.. do not consider the tear-gas revolver as a weapon.”[6] However, the response of the Police Bureau subsequently debates how the use of the product was used to determine its weaponry status.  Moreover, the Police Bureau’s response offers a contradiction by asserting that “to try and make out that the pistol is not a weapon would therefore seem to open the way to wholesale without a licence and indiscriminate use.. in quiet places.”[7] By further concluding that “it is a weapon and nothing else, even if its use does not involve death, and should certainly be licensed.” [8]

The article thus serves as an insight into the police response to protest in the period. Whilst they were clearly concerned with the spreading of armed protest by use of “articles of everyday use”, they were unprepared to take accountability for their use of the weaponry against protestors, as examined with the example above. This account serves to highlight how as Andrew Gordon suggests, the trajectory of protests in Toyoko towards less violent response was definitely varied.

Bibliography

 

Gordon, Andrew “Social Protest in Imperial Japan, The Hibiya Riot of 1905”,MIT Visualising Cultures, 2011, < https://visualizingcultures.mit.edu/social_protest_japan/trg_essay01.html>[ 14 December 2019].

 

SMPA Archive, ‘Protest by Labour:The New Weapon of the Tokyo Police’,The Japan Weekly Chronicle, Tokyo, 5 June 1930, <Shanghai Municipal Police Files>[accessed 14th December 2019.]

[1] Gordon, Andrew “Social Protest in Imperial Japan, The Hibiya Riot of 1905”,MIT Visualising Cultures, 2011, < https://visualizingcultures.mit.edu/social_protest_japan/trg_essay01.html>[ 14 December 2019].

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] SMPA Archive, ‘Protest by Labour:The New Weapon of the Tokyo Police’,The Japan Weekly Chronicle, Tokyo, 5 June 1930, <Shanghai Municipal Police Files>[accessed 14th December 2019.]

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

Domestic and Public Space under American Colonial Rule in the Philippines 1898-1946.

The Spanish rule over the Philippines culminated in 1898 and was swiftly replaced with American colonial rule, which would be observed until independence of the Philippines in 1946. [1] Following American intervention within the region under President William McKinley’s government, the “Benevolent Assimilation Proclamation” was decreed declaring “America’s duty to civilise the Philippines with superior American Culture.”[2] Educational, social and urban reforms were undertaken within the Philippine region by the American government. When examining urban reform however, the topic surrounding the “transformation of Filipino domestic architecture” has received little attention, according to Kiyoko Yamaguchi.

 

The role which architecture played in the assimilation and further representation of American values was profound as Yamaguchi has examined. As it was through the undertaking by the “Filipino elite [as they] expressed their social and economic success by building their dream American style house.”[3] Moreover, according to Yamaguchi such residences served  to represent “Filipino elite’s self-perceptions and appropriation of an imagined America in the Philippines.”[4] Through this adoption of American style architecture, in which upper class Filipinos gained inspiration from prints of modern American architecture, such changes were achieved within private space, for example through the inclusion of a porch. The role of the porch for Filipino elites would now be symbolic of the “new accent to the Philippine Urban home.”[5] Whilst in the private space such symbols would come to reinforce the upper class status of the Filipino elite, whilst within the public space “public structures.. [served as] monuments to Americanism.”[6] The role in which emulation of American houses played in Filipino upper class’s modes of self perception is thus in fact what Yamaguchi would comment as being “one of the earliest and brutal, lynchpins of American colonialism.”[7] Thus using urban and residential reform to enforce western values upon Philippine communities.

 

 

Bibliography

 

Yamaguchi, Kiyoko, ‘The New “American” Houses in the Colonial Philippines and the Rise of the Urban Filipino Elite’. Philippine Studies, Vol.54,No.3, The Book, II (2006), pp.412-451.

[1] The Treaty of Manilla in 1946 signified Philippine Independence.

[2]  Kiyoko, Yamaguchi, ‘The New “American” Houses in the Colonial Philippines and the Rise of the Urban Filipino Elite’. Philippine Studies, Vol.54,No.3, The Book, II (2006), p.414.

[3] Ibid., p.416.

[4] Ibid., p.414.

[5] Ibid.,p.430.

[6] Ibid.,p.466.

[7] Ibid., p.416.

“Of Rats, Rice and Race: The Great Hanoi Rat Massacre” an episode in French Colonial History”

 “Of Rats, Rice and Race: The Great Hanoi Rat Massacre” an episode in French Colonial History”

The tale “Of Rats, Rice and Race”, within this instance may better be better titled “Of Ignorance, Administration and Prejudice.” As through the anecdote of the “The Great Hanoi Rat Massacre”, such themes emerged in abundance, in light of the infestation of rats within the French community in colonial Hanoi. The arrival of the French in Vietnam symbolised a growing mission “to develop, modernize and control the seemingly backward societies ..of Asia.”[1] Under ideals held by the mission civilisatrice, French administrators had taken it open themselves to guide and steer “backwards” Asian populations onto a course of civilisation. Such was attempted so boldly within the city of Hanoi, where “an impressive transformation and the creation of an urban space devoted to luxury” had arisen.[2] However, such an impressive beginning would soon serve to highlight the stark limitations of French administrations control within the region as “the normalization of French life in the city was an illusion.”

 

As through a consequence this illusory control, of that which Michael G. Vann has argued that this served to prove the misunderstandings of French administrators as to local culture and further knowledge of the region, in comparison with their “backwards” subjects. As upon investigation, the breeding source of such infestation originated however within the colonial sewer system, a staple of the colonial administration. Thus, crucially “the sewer system of which the colonial administration was so proud, was making the traditionally native issue of rat infestation a white issue.”[3] The ignorance with which the French employed ideas towards disease and infestation was further consolidated through their attempt to solve the rat infestation issue, which backfired when local Vietnamese “rat catchers” would remove the tail of the rat in order to reap the monetary reward, thus tricking their so called superiors into a belief that the problem was being handled.

 

This anecdote serves to represent wider themes such as the role which ignorance and ideas surrounding race played in French colonial administration’s civilising mission within Asia. Serving as clear example as to how “French control of the city, the environment and the Vietnamese was tenuous at best and illusory at worst.”[4]

 

Bibliography

 

Vann, Michael G. “Of Rats, Rice, and Race: The Great Hanoi Rat Massacre, an Episode in French Colonial History.” French Colonial History 4 (2003): 191-203. doi:10.1353/fch.2003.0027.

 

[1] Michael, G. Vann, “Of Rats, Rice and Race: The Great Hanoi Rat Massacre, an Episode in French Colonial History.” French Colonial History 4 (2003): p.191.

[2] Ibid.,p.192.

[3] Ibid.,p.196.

[4] Ibid.,193.

Foreigners in Nineteenth Century Treaty Port Japan

The opening of Treaty Ports in Japan, in particular the Treaty Port of Yokohama in 1858, brought with it an abundance of opportunity for foreign visitors and Japanese natives alike. One such opportunity, was for the local Japanese population to gain their “first impressions” of western foreigners arriving within the Treaty Port.[1] Many Japanese artists capitalised upon this opportunity within the form of Yokohama-e, a form of woodblock print associated with representations of visual depictions of the Treaty Port and primarily western foreigners who occupied a very small portion of the population residing within the port. John Downer’s essay “Yokohama Boomtown; Foreigners in Treaty Port Japan,” makes clear reference to one primary source which prompts wider questions into representations of foreigners of the five Treaty Port nations in Yokohama.

 

Utagawa Yoshitora’s, “Eight Views of Yokohama: Sails Returning to the Landing Pier,” 1861, depicts a typical woodblock scene of foreigners participating in leisure within the Treaty Port. Whilst the image, produced by local Yokohama woodblock artist Yoshitora, depicts the meeting of a couple, it is evident how such “first impressions” of foreigners catered more to the imagination then reality. As Dower has explored such images were produced with degree off caution on behalf of the Japanese artists, as for example as “foreign women [were viewed] as conspicuous as their merchant husbands.”[2]

 

This caution towards foreigners is also represented through artists idealised perception of foreigners. As Dower highlights further “the departure from strict reality” in which woodblock prints representing foreigners in Treaty Port Yokohama depict perhaps a more fanciful ideal reality to that of what was witnessed within Yokohama at the time. This is evident within Yoshitora’s treatment of foreign dress, as the foreign woman’s pineapple headdress which was employed to symbolise “a fashion statement that apparently was inspired by a profile on a U.S coin”, opposed to an actual worn garment. [3]

 

Whilst it was unlikely that the artist was in fact reproducing an image from a first-hand account, as Dower has argued many local artists took inspiration from the chronicle Illustrated London News, from which they gained inspiration as to the treatment of such European subjects. Further due to the proliferation of these images as well as the range and treatment of subjects in woodblock prints of Yokohama, there was a disproportionate amount of representations of foreigners as opposed to the modestly numbered foreign community living within the Treaty Port.

 

Nevertheless, the image represents how within local art and custom Japanese natives first interpreted and proliferated early impressions the people of the five treaty port nations, even if such were done with a slight air of caution.

Bibliography

Dower, John, “Yokohama Boomtown, Foreign community in Treaty Port Japan 1859-1872”, MIT Visualising Cultures, 2008,<https://visualizingcultures.mit.edu/yokohama/yb_essay01.html> [10 October 2019].

Utagawa Yoshitora’s “Eight Views of Yokohama: Sails Returning to the Landing Pier,” Woodblock Print, 1861, Yokohama, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.

[1] John Dower, “Yokohama Boomtown, Foreign community in Treaty Port Japan 1859-1872”, MIT Visualising Cultures, 2008,<https://visualizingcultures.mit.edu/yokohama/yb_essay01.html> [10 October 2019].

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

Space, Religion, Government and Dragons in Twentieth Century China

The Role that Dragons have occupied in Modern Chinese history, to many historians may be understood as contested. The history of Dragons within China’s past not only debates the mere existence of Dragons as physical entities, but as popular religious deities. Thus, through the examination of Dragons as popular religious deities, such as the Dragon King of Wuhan, we may attempt to understand how space, religion, government all facilitated towards a wider belief system of worship for many people at the time.  In particular, how people viewed such deities in response to environmental catastrophes such as the 1931 Yangtze River Flood. Chris Courtney’s illuminating article and further monograph examine such popular beliefs held by the residents of Wuhan in light of the flood, which provides the background for this analysis.

 

Primarily the role of Dragon’s as popular religious beliefs may be examined in light of the space that they occupied physically. For example, for local populations in the 1930’s such as those within Wuhan, worshiped the shrine of the Temple of the Dragon King. Such people prayed for fertility for their crop growth before a harvest to the Dragon King who was in control of the rains. Physical manifestations of worship within Wuhan, were also eminent, such as parades in celebration of the Dragon King annually. Following the demolition of the Temple prior to the 1931 catastrophe, many within Wuhan held popular belief that it was in fact the anger of the Dragon King which “was causing the deluge in order to wreak vengeance upon Wuhan.”[1] The destruction of the Temple, whilst not linked to any religious cause for its demolition, but for the purpose of modernization within Wuhan, further pays homage to ideas expressed within Joespeh Esherick’s work on modern zoning principles. By citing Wuhan an example, the modernising nature of the city exposes the relationship between religious space and modernisation within Wuhan as “if the nation was to modernize, the cities had to take the lead.”[2]

 

However, in spite of the municipal authorities of Wuhan officially outlawing belief in the Dragon King in 1928 as superstition, Chris Courtney gives a poignant example of how belief was maintained not only privately but physically. Courtney described how members of the Wuhan population “descended upon the site of the former temple. Daoist, priests, monks and Shamans were hired to chant incantations and pray”, for forgiveness in light of the catastrophe.[3] Following the example given by Courtney, this allows us to see how the role of government rose within this relationship between understanding how space, religion, and government all facilitated a wider belief system for many people at the time. As described by Courtney, municipal authorities in spite of denouncing belief in the Dragon King as superstitious, Courtney observed that they still however paid lip service to belief in the deity in times of inundation, even if this was only to appease members of the population. Thus, supporting the idea that space, religion and government all serve to facilitate a wider belief system employed by residents during times of disaster. By ultimately affirming how “the disaster had revealed that in spite of vigorous criticism, popular religion continued to exert a powerful influence over conceptualizations of the environment.”[4]

 

 

Bibliography

 

Courtney, Chris. “The Dragon King and the 1931 Wuhan Flood: Religious Rumours and Environmental Disasters in Republican China.” Twentieth-Century China, vol. 40 no. 2, 2015, p. 83-104. Project MUSEdoi:10.1353/tcc.2015.0018.

 

Courtney, Chris, The Nature of Disaster in China: The 1931 Yangzi River Flood, (Cambridge, 2018).

 

Esherick, Joseph, ed. ‘Wuhan’s Search for Identity in the Republican Period’. In Remaking the Chinese City: Modernity and National Identity, 1900-1950, Pbk.ed. Honolulu: University of Hawaiʻi Press, 2002.

 

[1] Chris Courtney, ‘The Dragon King and The 1931 Wuhan Flood: Religious Rumors and Environmental Disasters in Republican China.’, Twentieth-Century China, Vol.40 no.2, (2015), p.84.

[2] Joseph Esherick, ‘Wuhan’s Search for Identity in the Republican Period’. In Remaking the Chinese City: Modernity and National Identity, 1900-1950, Pbk.ed. Honolulu: University of Hawaiʻi Press, (2002), p.7.

[3] Chris Courtney, ‘The Dragon King and The 1931 Wuhan Flood: Religious Rumors and Environmental Disasters in Republican China.’,p.96.

[4] Ibid.,p.83.

Thinking about Sounds: ‘Sounds of a City’

When thinking of everyday sounds, whether that be where one lives, works or takes leisure, the importance of sound is rarely considered in its role in creating and forging “individual or collective identity.”[1] David Garrioch examined the importance of sounds “as crucial sources of information in semiotic systems.” [2] The importance of such systems served to “convey news, helping people to locate themselves in time and space and making the point of an auditory community.”[3] Thus through this appreciation of sound we may deploy this thinking to the example given by Alain Corbin within the History of Bells in nineteenth century Europe. Garrioch employs this argument in order to examine how sounds again served as “signals, marks of local identity, as symbols of authority and resistance, hence sites of social and political struggle.”[4] This argument may be contrasted with how we think about urban spaces now. When thinking of sound within an urban city we may view the changing nature of sounds in the community. As for beyond its integral use in seventeenth and eighteenth century sound scapes as Garrioch has proposed, Antoine Pluche has made an argument to suggest that “sound calls us busy with the things they signify but they start to tire and annoy us when they are no longer signals of anything.”[5] When thinking of this argument in relation to urban spaces, we may suggest that the role of sound still plays a vital role in community albeit to a varied degree as well as to signify a growing array of signs in different geographic regions. As for example sound is still of vital importance within middle eastern urban cities such as for example within Morocco, witnessed with the daily call to prayer. Equally the argument may be applied to the signal which the sound of the tram warning systems evokes in the city of San Francisco for local residents. Thus through examining such places, this serves to show how the role of sound occupies an important role within communities across the globe, albeit varied.

Bibliography

Garrioch, David, “Sounds of the City: the Soundscape of Early Modern European Towns.” Urban History 30, no. 1 (2003): 5–25. doi:10.1017/S0963926803001019.

[1] David, Garrioch, “Sounds of the City: the Soundscape of Early Modern European Towns.” Urban History 30, no. 1 (2003),p.6.

[2] Ibid., p.5.

[3] Ibid., p.5.

[4] Ibid., p.6.

[5] Ibid., p.25.

Looking Back on Perspectives of Anglo-Japanese Tourism

In the October 13th, 1938 edition of the Japan Chronicle Weekly, there is a full page spread on the relationship between Britain and Japan in the context of tourism. The author of the article, A.F. Thomas, asserts that despite the tenuous political relationship between the two countries, the people of Britain maintain a friendly disposition towards Japan and are a potentially fruitful market for Japan’s tourist bureau. At the time this article had been published, Japanese troops had already invaded and were in the process of occupying much of China. The Rape of Nanjing had occurred early in the year and the Battle of Wuhan just four months prior.[1] Thomas ignores the Japanese Empire’s brutality and crimes throughout its invasion of China – perhaps partially as a result of lack of information about the atrocities that were taking place. Regardless of whether Thomas’ ignorance of the geopolitical situation of the time is conscious or not, he laments Britain’s lack of cultural relationship with Japan. He articulates that “everything is to be gained by beginning , even during the present Conflict, an intense publicity campaign to attract tourists and students to Japan after the regrettable crisis is over.”[2] Thomson points out that while there are Japanese Tourist Bureau offices in New York and Los Angeles, there are none in Britain. Despite the lack of bureaucracy facilitating Anglo-Japanese travel, Thomson says that “England can show a train of first-class Japanologists which America would find difficult to rival.”[3] He goes on to say that he envisions a new class of traveller emerging should Anglo-Japanese tourism proliferate. This new class of traveller would be scholarly and more focused on understanding Japanese people and their ways of life than the stereotypical Globetrotter of previous decades who ostensibly only travelled for the sake of travelling. An increasing amount of cultural understanding, Thomson says, “leads to international friendships of the more lasting kind.”[4]

Thomson’s account of the lack of a tourist-centred relationship with Japan in 1938 elicits an examination of the nature of Anglo-Japanese tourism in earlier periods. When Thomas references the “Globetrotter” he is referring to a stereotype of Western travellers that toured Asian countries, most notably Japan, in the late 19th century. Thomas Cook was an early pioneer of Anglo-Asian travel. He founded a travel company (which still exists today) that brought groups of British tourists on an around the world tour, the first of which set off in 1872 and after traversing the United States, arrived in Yokohama. An author and traveller by the name of William Griffis, writing sometime between 1870 and 1874, noted that tourists “have become so frequent and temporarily numerous in Yokohama as to be recognized as a distinct class.”[5] Other Westerners who had spent extensive time in Japan made fun of these eccentric travellers. One of these figures, Basil Hall Chamberlain, describes the interests and character of globetrotters as widely varied, from those interested in wildlife to politically-minded nobles.

These accounts show that there is a rich and entertaining history of Anglo-Japanese tourism in the early Meiji period that contrast to Thomson’s campaign for the re-establishment of tourist ties over half-a-century later. While the upheaval of the early 20th century undoubtedly curtailed opportunities for travel, the phenomenon of Anglo-Japanese tourism may in fact be more deep than Thomson suggests.

 

[1] Thomson, A.F. “England and Japan’s Tourism and Culture.” Volume 1938 – Japan Chronicle Weekly Edition. (13th October 1938).

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid

[5] Hockley, Allan. Globetrotter’s Japan: Foreigners on the tourist circuit in Meiji Japan. MIT Visualizing Cultures. (2010)

Shanghai Homes as Private Domestic Spaces

Following the end of the Opium War, the Treaty of Nanking in 1842 symbolised the opening of treaty ports. Shanghai’s opening welcomed an influx in  Western traders as well as foreign settlers. The influence of such foreign settlers was apparent across broad swathes of the Chinese community. Such influence was clearly recognisable through the development of architecture in Shanghai. Such an exchange between western modernity and traditional Chinese emerged within Shanghai’s neighbourhoods, in particularly Shanghai’s lilong residences.[1]The rise in Shikumen style housing, which made up a significant proportion of lilong residences, by 1930, serve as insightful spaces of historical artefact, in which Jie Li, has examined thoroughly within her work on Shanghai Homes: Palimpsests of Private Life (2015). Through maintaining an interdisciplinary approach to the comparison of two shikumen style houses, in which both Jie Li’s paternal and maternal grandparents and family subsequently lived from 1930, through the combination of ethnography and microhistory Li creates her own approach to the subject of such housing in Shanghai as palimpsests, through her approach “Excavate Where I Stand.”[2] Thus through the analysis of the private and domestic space, witnessed with Jie Li’s work the author reclaims the importance of such domestic spaces, and reclaims the space of Shanghai alleyways in history as “Shanghai alleyways.. a palimpsests of voices and noises, past and present.”[3]

 

Despite critiques of microhistory, which focus on its limited scope, the strength here within Li’s work shows the role of microhistory as facilitating the ‘excavation’ of details, within the private domestic space, which overall serve to contribute to the readers understanding on the topic of enquiry as a whole. By expressing that whilst “a microhistory is not the last nail on the coffin of its subject matter, but rather an invitation to examine similarly obscured lives and to open up the Pandora’s box of a past era.”[4]

 

Moreover, the approach through its focus on ethnology additionally succeeds in transforming the role of local gossip into a tool, for the use of the historian. As “the private narratives of the past form gossip and family lore.. an undercurrent of private interests, voices and beliefs.”[5] Thus, through this approach historians are able to gain access to otherwise lost oral narratives of a private closed spaces. Which may be viewed as particularly crucial in the case of reconstructing narratives of the private space within Shanghai alleyway homes throughout the early twentieth century. This is summarised accordingly by Li as, “the history of any alleyway should be written as an anthology of gossip exchanged among its residents.”[6]

 

The importance of the private domestic space in this instance of understanding Shanghai Homes within the period, is reclaimed through the deployment of Li’s ethnographical and micro historical approach, which succeeds in light of sceptics views of microhistory. Let us hope that Jie Li’s insightful approach may be adopted as an alternative approach to examining otherwise unavailable private domestic spaces by historians in the future.

 

 

 

Bibliography

Li, Jie, Shanghai Homes: Palimpsests of Private Life. (New York:, 2015).

Yang Xianoneng, ‘Shanghai Alleyways: Situating Jinahua Gong’s Shanghai Alleyways’, Cross-Currents East Asian History and Culture Review, Volume No.2, March 2010.

 

[1] Lilong, is a term used to describe a street, sometimes interconnected where Shikumen housing would be found.

[2] Jie Li, Shanghai Homes: Palimpsests of Private Lives, (New York, 2015) p.11.

[3] Ibid.,p.12.

[4] Ibid.,p.14.

[5] Ibid.,p.23.

[6] Ibid., p.142