Surgical Treatment of Organic Space: The Reconstruction of Seoul under Japanese Rule (1910-1945).

The Japanese Annexation of Korea in August 1910 prompted a rebuilding of Korean urban space under a Japanese state ideology. The Government-General worked to physically change the city of Keijo in particular, in order to mentally transform the identities of Korean colonial subjects in a project of assimilation. In his publication Assimilating Seoul: Japanese Rule and the Politics of Public Space in Colonial Korea, 1910-1945, Todd Henry describes the desacralisation of the Korean Royal House, state planning projects involving roads, harbours and street layout, government building construction and the alteration of sacred spaces.[1]  These were state-building colonial projects that sought to imbue Korea with a Japanese self-confidence in nationalism. The project of spatial reorganisation is recorded in Japanese government reports of the early 20th century which document the progress of urban construction in contrast with the “history” of Keijo and its inadequacies.[2] These reports are valuable in revealing the ideology behind spatial planning, but also in their more surprising corroboration with Henry’s argument that Japanese spatial organisation was not all subsuming.

The Annual Report on Reforms and Progress in Chosen, 1921-22, begins with a narrative on the history of civil engineering in Korea, bolstering the journal’s later claims of progress and innovation through a contrast with pre-colonial Korea. “Public properties were in a most neglected state and subject to abuse by the people”.[3] This implies that the state of Korean cities caused a disunity and lack of respect among their citizens, who are depicted as aggressive and barbaric. The attack on the physical stature of the city implies that the identity of Korea was being destroyed internally, consequently presenting the construction work of the Japanese as the rebuilding of national identity. This is ideology is evident in examples such as the Keijo City Planning Research Association which was established in 1921. The organisation placed emphasis on the scientific management of space to create an organic urban system which simultaneously overcame ethnic and class divisions.[4] This displays the ideological vision which is exposed in the Annual Report of 1921 that Korean society was a malleable entity which could become part of a larger Japanese nationality through their integration into the physical environment of the city. Consequently, the development targets for roadbuilding and harbours which the Annual Report mentions can be seen as part of a project to maintain an unbroken Japanese imperial line across borders. The historical report of conditions prior to colonial occupation describes roadbuilding as an “unknown science…preventing economic and cultural development”.[5] This further elevates the Japanese role as one of ‘saviour’ implying that they facilitated the emergence of Korea onto an international stage. This did occur as newly developed roads and other transportation networks facilitated lowered transport costs and the development of integrated market systems.[6] On the level of town planning, however, road development acted as a both a physical and metaphorical entity which cut through the ancient Korean past and reshaped the city as a focal point of modernity- “straightening, grading and widening” streets.[7]

However, in his publication, Henry suggests that the ideological development of Korean cities was not always successful, and that the Japanese ability to integrate Japanese and Korean citizens was “highly variable and partial”.[8] This was a result of the human ability to add additional layers of meaning to a space, which, observed through the analytical lens of Lefebvre, became a space of social struggle.[9] The Annual Report corroborates this, despite its celebratory tone. In road building “resort[ing] to the old custom [was] allowed only in the case of third-class roads, as these were closely connected with local interests”.[10] This implies that investment was concentrated at a central level, meaning that first and second-class roads which connected with the city centre and Japanese quarters were prioritised. It suggests that central planning was orientated toward the Japanese presence, resulting in uneven development and neglect of the smaller, local “capillary networks”.[11] Indeed, in the report, these local areas remain associated with an unsophisticated Korean past, implying that Japanese development projects were far from total or all-subsuming, supported by the statistic presented by Henry that 85.5% of Keijo retained its pre-colonial administrative boundaries.[12]

The Annual Report provided by the Japanese administration is valuable in revealing the ideology behind the physical transformation of Korean cities after its annexation. The 1921-22 report demonstrates the use of derogatory Japanese visions of old Korea in elevating their own colonial projects of improvement. Moreover, it demonstrates the use of town planning as both a physical and mental tool which was used to reshape and define Korea under Japanese terms of nationalism. This source is useful when examined alongside secondary literature such as Todd Henry’s Assimilating Seoul which assesses the limitations of Japanese town-planning as an ideological tool without practical implementation on all social levels.

 

Bibliography

Primary Source:

Government-General of Chosen, Annual Report on Reforms and Progress in Chosen (Korea), 1921-22, (Korea 1923), pp.159-167 <https://archive.org/details/annualreportonreformsandprogressinchosen korea192122/page/n203/mode/2up> [accessed 27th September 2021]

Secondary Sources:

Caprio, Mark, Japanese Assimilation Policies in Colonial Korea, 1910-1945, (Washington 2009).

Henry, Todd, Assimilating Seoul: Japanese Rule and the Politics of Public Space in Colonial Korea, 1910-1945, (California 2014).

Merrifield, Andy, Henri Lefebvre: A Critical Introduction, (2006).

Pao-San Ho, Samuel, ‘Colonialism and Development’ in Kenneth Pomeranz, Dennis O Flynn, Arturo Giraldez (eds), The Pacific in the Early Age of Industrialisation, (London 2009), pp.347-398.

 

[1] Todd Henry, Assimilating Seoul: Japanese Rule and the Politics of Public Space in Colonial Korea, 1910-1945, (California 2014), pp.28-32.

[2] Government-General of Chosen, Annual Report on Reforms and Progress in Chosen (Korea), 1921-22, (Korea 1923), pp.159-167.

[3] Annual Report on Reforms and Progress in Chosen (Korea), p.159.

[4] Todd, Assimilating Seoul, p.45.

[5] Annual Report on Reforms and Progress in Chosen (Korea), pp.159-160.

[6] Samuel Pao-San Ho, ‘Colonialism and Development’ in Kenneth Pomeranz, Dennis O Flynn, Arturo Giraldez (eds), The Pacific in the Early Age of Industrialisation, (London 2009), p.352.

[7] Annual Report on Reforms and Progress in Chosen (Korea), p.162.

[8] Todd, Assimilating Seoul, p.6.

[9] Andy Merrifield, Henri Lefebvre: A Critical Introduction, (2006), p.115.

[10] Annual Report on Reforms and Progress in Chosen (Korea), pp.159-160.

[11] Todd, Assimilating Seoul, p.37.

[12] Todd, Assimilating Seoul, p.37.

Churches in Manila: A Start to the Long Essay

As I am thinking about potential topics for the Long Essay due in December, I have stumbled upon some interesting thoughts, two to be precise: the empirical versus the theoretical.

Firstly, a potential topic for my essay would be the discussion of Catholic spaces and general Catholicism brought into the Philippines by Spanish conquistadors versus Protestantism (and possibly other non-Catholic Christian religions) and Protestant spaces brought into the Philippines by Americans.

During my brief research, I found that the first Protestant minister, Arthur Prautsch, served as a missionary in Manila in 1899. He became a local preacher for the Methodist church in Manila for a Bishop named James M. Thoburn. Shortly after this, more missionary groups followed, and by 1916, the Methodists had “50 missionaries and 45,000 converts”, the Presbyterians had 65 missionaries with 15,700 members by 1925, the Baptists had 2,858 converts in 1925, and finally, the Disciples of Christ and the Foreign Christian Mission Society became the “third-largest non-Catholic church in the Philippines with 7,326 members” by 1925.[1]

I found the empirical research, the growing number of followers for Protestant religions to “save” Filipino’s from the “unchristian” and “corrupt” Latin Catholicism highly fascinating. The missionaries’ goal to “save” Filipinos by “preaching the Gospel and erecting churches” became noteworthy for me due to the concept of the “Church” versus churches.[2] This brings me to my second thought, the theory.

The churches built by Protestant missionaries are actual physical spaces. The spaces are physical landmarks where people interact with the space. People go inside a church; they sit on pews and listen to a sermon, light some candles, and they talk and interact with others (to be honest, I am not a churchgoer, so the technicality of what someone does in a church is still a bit lost on me). Nevertheless, what provoked me, is not just the physical space of a church; it is the concept. The Catholic Church versus the Protestant Church. The capitalization of the letter ‘C’. The discourse surrounding it is a representation of the space rather than a representational (lived and interacted with its physicality) space. In my understanding, Lefebvre’s triad Churches are multi-dimensional spaces, and the way it is talked about can be considered just as powerful as a physical space or building.[3] The conceptualized idea of a Church holds just as much power as the actual building of a church; the conversations held around the Catholic Church versus the Protestant Church. For example, how the Protestant Church found Roman Catholics and its clergy “wealthy and corrupt [whom they] failed to promote morality, closed the Bible to the people, and based the faith also on tradition and not just on holy scripture.”[4]

To summarise my contemplations, I believe this could be an interesting topic of study for my Long Essay, with primary sources ranging from plans of churches to the discourse surrounding Churches. However, it seems quite convoluted, and the topic needs further deliberation.

[1] Jose S. Arcilla, ‘Review: Protestant Missionaries in the Philippines’, Review of “Protestant Missionaries in the Philippines, 1898-1916. An Inquiry into the American Colonial Mentality” by Kenton J. Clymer, Philippine Studies, 36: 1 (1988), p. 106.

[2] Ibid., pp. 106-107.

[3] Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space (xx, 1974), pp. 38-39.

[4] Arcilla, ‘Review: Protestant Missionaries in the Philippines’, p. 109.

Malacca: Internal Diversity and the Homogenisation of the Malayan National Identity

The first chapter of Reading Bangkok explores the historical origins of Bangkok from the fall of the Ayutthaya kingdom towards the early 20th century. Ross King’s primary argument lays upon the idea that Bangkok (and by extension, Siam) holds a dualistic identity, a surface level (masked) identity and an internal identity.[1] Bangkok’s ethno-religious diversity of Buddhist Thai, Lao, Khmer, Muslim Patani, Christian-Portuguese and Chinese serve the foundation of Bangkok’s internal identity, not predicated on any singular ethno-religious background. While on the surface, rigid and homogeneous notions of a singular ‘Siamese’ identity upheld barriers to distinguish the local from the foreign in the name of European-inspired ‘modernity’.

I would argue that this phenomenon of masking diversity is evident in other cities of Southeast Asia, namely Malacca (and, by extension, Malaysia). The colonial administration encouraged the construction of separate and rigid ethno-religious identities, providing them the agency to define the parameters of a grand ‘Malayan’ identity.

Sin Yee Koh highlights that Malaysia’s ethno-religious diversity has been masked by a rigid Malay-centric vision of Malaysian identity.[2] Unlike Siam, this surface-level identity has not been applied through local, elite-driven movements towards ‘modernity’ but by British-driven efforts to homogenise Malaysia’s diverse population under an anglo-centric understanding of ‘Malayan identity’.

This is exemplified in Thomas Newbold’s 1839 Political and Statistical account of British Settlements in the Straits of Malacca, namely, Malacca. Newbold acknowledges Malacca’s ethno-religious diversity, however, it appears that his census has inconsistencies with broadly constructed identities that appear to segregate and simplify the city’s population. Newbold incorporates the diverse peninsular Malay, Acehnese, Moluccan and Bugi population under a broad Malay category.[3] But at the same time, he produces a specific ‘Javanese’ category despite its similar origins to the broadly defined ‘Malay’ ethnic group.[4] Additionally, Newbold includes both broad religious and ethnic groups within his census to categorise people of unidentifiable or fluid backgrounds. Those with South-Asian ancestry that do not fit under the ‘Chuliah’ or ‘Bengali’ categories were identified as ‘Hindoo’.[5] Those who were not identified as ‘European’ but followers of the Christian faith (no matter what ethnic group) fit under the broad Christian category.[6]

This census highlights two ideas. Firstly, the colonial administration failed to provide agency to Malacca’s internal diversity and created broad categories that compartmentalised the city’s population for easier administration. Secondly, the desire for simplification highlights a highly rigid notion of identity, one that disregards demographic fluidity for concretely define categories of identification.

The colonial administration was arguably not blind towards Malacca’s internal diversity as Newbold does acknowledge local Eurasian populations. However, this fluidity is disregarded as a form of ‘impurity’. The Portuguese-descent population, which have resided in Malacca for 400 years and are highly inter-mixed with the peninsular Malay and Chinese populations, are regarded as ‘degenerated’ and ‘impoverished’.[7] However, the Dutch population are deemed ‘respectable’ due to their ‘pure’ lineage to elite officers of the previous Dutch colonial government in Malacca.[8]

As the colonial administration engaged in the segregation of Malacca’s demographic diversity, this provided ample agency for the administration to construct an understanding of a broader ‘Malayan’ identity. Newbold creates a dichotomous relationship between the ‘native’ and the ‘foreigner’, with the peninsular Malay population labelled as ‘native’ and all other populations seen as ‘foreign’.[9] This constructed identity removes agency from the domestic population and provides power to the colonial administration to define Malayan identity for themselves.

Koh’s analysis supports this as the colonial administration’s assertion of what it meant to be ‘native’ constructed a national identity that emphasised the importance of the ‘native’ Malay over the ‘foreign’ Chinese and Indian population.[10] Much like in Siam, a homogenous identity masked Malaya’s internal demographic diversity under rigid definitions of race and religion, emphasising the indigenuity of a native ‘Malay’ population as the primary representation of Malayan identity. The ‘mask’ of the ‘native’ dominated nationalist politics and arguably dominates local Malaysian politics today.

 

Bibliography:

Primary Source:

Newbold, Thomas John, Political and Statistical account of the British Settlements in the Straits of Malacca, viz. Pinang, Malacca and Singapore; with a History of the Malayan States on the Peninsula of Malacca, vol. 1. (London, 1839).

Secondary Sources:

King, Ross, Reading Bangkok (Hawaii, 2011).

Koh, Sin Yee, Race, Education and Citizenship: Mobile Malaysians, British Colonial Legacies, and a Culture of Migration (New York, 2017).

[1] Ross King, Reading Bangkok (Hawaii, 2011), p. 1.
[2] Sin Yee Koh, Race, Education and Citizenship: Mobile Malaysians, British Colonial Legacies, and a Culture of Migration (New York, 2017), pp. 88-89.
[3] Thomas John Newbold, Political and Statistical account of the British Settlements in the Straits of Malacca, viz. Pinang, Malacca, and Singapore; with a History of the Malayan States on the Peninsula of Malacca, vol. 1. (London, 1839), p. 136.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid., pp. 136-137.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid., p. 138.
[8] Ibid., pp. 137-138.
[9] Ibid., p. 44.
[10] Koh, Mobile Malaysians, pp. 88-89.

Defining National Identity and Claiming Modernity: The United States Consulate, Yokohama.

 The United States Consulate, Yokohama United States Consulate Text

The Ansei Treaties of 1858 ended Japan’s national exclusion through the development of treaty ports such as Yokohama, involving the country in an international trade network dependent on foreign accommodations and concessions. It has been suggested that the treaty ports became a “place of intersection for modern imperialism”. [1]  This is evidenced in The Far East publication’s article on the United States Consulate, which demonstrates a conflict between America’s cultural assumptions of its Japanese hosts and the necessity for a productive coexistence.[2]

The article places significance on the location and arrangement of the American Consulate buildings, implying that the physical landscape of the Treaty Ports acted as an authoritative stamp of foreign power, despite the lack of formal territorial possession. It states: “The building is directly opposite the Saibansho” and lists the varying functions of the Consulate itself. The spatial proximity of the buildings creates an impression of American dominance, where the Consulate acted as the capital of success. Indeed, the presence of the Consul’s private residence alongside national corporations, such as the US post office, implies that the infiltration of the US into Yokohama occurred on both a public and private level. Seemingly, traditional boundaries between administrative, commercial and domestic space were largely discarded in favour of the pervasion of a ‘total’ American identity. Social measures such as the importation of American food and the introduction of baseball were important accompaniments to this policy of cultural distinction from the Japanese.[3]

Despite this, the ensuing discussion of commerce in Yokohama presents a conflict between the retention of an American national identity and the necessity for interaction with Japanese industry. The writer’s commending tone toward American commercial success is heightened by the deliberate contrast with Japanese efforts of industrialisation. The writer suggests that the local community comprised of “loafers”, who were better off shipped across to America where they could experience the true meaning of modernity. This implies that American inhabitants of Yokohama subscribed to stereotypes that the Japanese were “essentially feeble” and that foreigners had a “moral imperative” to improve the situation of this isolated outpost.[4] Emphasis of “increased business” as a result of the Pacific Mail Company steamers suggests that the treaty port of Yokohama fostered solely American ambitions which dragged Japan into an international modernity, both physically and psychologically.

This description devalues The Far East’s article as a measured assessment of industrial development in the 19th century. Instead, it suggests that the concept of ‘modernity’ which was fostered during this time was a Western mediated phenomenon, rather than a progression which occurred on Japanese soil. It is true that Japan’s trade increased after foreign intervention- by the end of the twentieth century, Japan and China together supplied one third of the world’s silk.[5]  However, in contradiction, there was never one obsolete power in Yokohama. The intersection of West and East created a territorially ambiguous space where both powers met through commercial necessity. Cultural assumptions of Japanese inadequacy still prevailed but were reshaped and overridden by the necessity for interaction. Japan retained autonomy over the division of space in the port, where institutions were “lined up” and jockeying for valuable access to the water.[6] The derogatory description of the local community suggests that American survival depended on interactions with local Japanese as physical isolation was both impossible and detrimental. Imports from the West have been described as “the first step toward prosperity” for new Meiji Imperialism. The state propagated an image of aspirational Japan who acted as a facilitator of international trade, inserting themselves into the narrative of modernity which the Far East implies was exclusively ‘Western’.[7] Consequently, whilst the American presence was notable in Yokohama, it did not exist without interdependence on the locals, which stimulated a search for national identity on both parts. This made the treaty ports a unique setting, where national identities were forged and redefined in an environment of divergence.

 

 

Bibliography

Primary Source

Anglin, James, “The United States Consulate”, The Far East, Vol.1, No.18, (Yokohama February 1871), pp.5-6.

Secondary Sources

Ambaras, David, Japan’s Imperial Underworlds: Intimate Encounters at the Borders of Empire, (Cambridge 2018).

Bytheway, J, “The Arrival of the Modern West in Yokohama: Images of the Japanese Experience 1859-1899”, in Donna Brunero and Stephanie Villalta Puig, Life in Treaty Port China and Japan, (Singapore 2018), pp.246-267.

Hoare, James, The Japanese Treaty Ports 1868-1899: A Study of the Foreign Settlements, (London 1970).

Roden, Donald, “Baseball and the Quest for National Dignity in Meiji Japan.” The American Historical Review, vol. 85, no. 3, (Oxford 1980), pp. 511–534.

Taylor, Jeremy, “The Bund: Littoral Space of Empire in the Treaty Ports of East Asia”, Social History, Vol. 27, No.2, (2002), pp. 125-142.

Xu, Yingnan, “Industrialization and the Chinese Hand-Reeled Silk Industry (1880-1930)”, Penn History Review, Vol. 19, No.1, (Pennsylvania 2012), pp.27-46.

 

 

[1] David Ambaras, Japan’s Imperial Underworlds: Intimate Encounters at the Borders of Empire, (Cambridge 2018), p.71.

[2] James Anglin, “The United States Consulate”, The Far East, Vol.1, No.18, (Yokohama February 1871), pp.5-6.

[3] James Hoare, The Japanese Treaty Ports 1868-1899: A Study of the Foreign Settlements, (London 1970), p.111. Donald Roden, “Baseball and the Quest for National Dignity in Meiji Japan”, The American Historical Review, vol. 85, no. 3, (Oxford 1980), p.512.

[4] Roden, “Baseball and the Quest for National Dignity”, p.152.

[5] Yingnan Xu, “Industrialization and the Chinese Hand-Reeled Silk Industry (1880-1930)”, Penn History Review, Vol. 19, No.1, (Pennsylvania 2012), p.31.

[6] Jeremy Taylor, “The Bund: Littoral Space of Empire in the Treaty Ports of East Asia”, Social History, Vol. 27, No.2, (2002), p.134.

[7] J. Bytheway, “The Arrival of the Modern West in Yokohama: Images of the Japanese Experience 1859-1899”, in Donna Brunero and Stephanie Villalta Puig, Life in Treaty Port China and Japan, (Singapore 2018), p.256.

“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.