East Asia Image Collection: Release of the New Design

qingdaoOver the past two years, Eric Luhrs (Director Digital Scholarship Services), James Griffin, and the hard-working team at Digital Scholarship Services, Lafayette College, have redesigned the East Asia Image Collection.  The redesigned site is now functional.  Its new features include: “facets” that allow users to rapidly limit searches, and just as quickly unlimit them; an improved image-viewing interface; the ability to view the backs of postcards, and many more improvements.  The East Asia Image Collection now has 19 sub-collections and over 5100 records (with another 900 in various stages of preparation).

new and old postcard

The East Asia Image Collection is an open-access archive of digitized photographs, negatives, postcards, and slides of imperial Japan (1868-1945), its Asian empire (1895-1945) and occupied Japan (1947-52). Images of Taiwan 台湾, Japan 日本, China 中国, Korea 朝鮮, Manchuria 満洲国, and Indonesia are included. The Collection is built around a core of visual materials donated to Skillman Library Special Collections by the family of Gerald and Rella Warner. Images unique to this collection include the Warners’ unpublished slides and negatives , made from snapshots taken during their years of US State Department service in Asia (1932-1952). Rare materials include prewar picture postcards, high-quality commercial prints, and colonial era picture books. Each record in the East Asia Image Collection has been assigned subject headings, hyper-linked metadata, and, to the fullest extent possible, historiographical, bibliographical and technical data.

Updates, news from the world of visual studies and East Asian politics, history, and culture, and be found on The East Asia Image Collection Facebook page.


We have also created a blog with bibliographies, guides to resources, and research notes:



Visualizing War, Visualizing Fascism: November 11th, 2013, Kirby Auditorium, Lafayette College


The workshop “Visualizing War, Visualizing Fascism” will be held at Lafayette College, at the Kirby Hall of Civil Rights, on Monday, November 11th,  in the auditorium facing the front entrance (room 104). We will begin at 4:10pm and end at 6:30pm.


Film and Photography in Germany and Japan

A purely technological history of photography and film would explain why the second World War was recorded so copiously and vividly in contrast to earlier conflicts, but the development of handheld cameras (like the Leica created in 1925), advances in film technology (including sound), and better means of transmitting images for publication via wire do not explain how war came to be seen either during the conflict or in retrospect.  This workshop addresses some the cultural complexities of visualizing war in Germany, Italy, and Japan during the 1930s and 1940s, raising the political, aesthetic and ethical quandaries posed by trying to see combat and glory, death and destruction contemporaneously and retrospectively.

There are two quandaries central to this workshop: the invisible nature of that which is being visualized and the particular slipperiness of interpreting visual materials.  The workshop’s title alludes to a central paradox in visualization.  Since war cannot be seen in its totality and memory concerns the invisible past, the visualization of war and memory concerns something which, in one sense, cannot be seen at all.  We are talking about the visualization of the invisible. One issue of the workshop will therefore necessarily be the difference between “visualizing” and “seeing.”   A second issue will be the question of subjectivity, i.e. who visualizes the violence and who reenvisions it retrospectively.  On the one hand, attention must be paid to the strategies adopted and deployed by the fascist states themselves to propagate war and make it meaningful.  On the other hand, state representations can be subverted when seen by the “wrong” people, the unintended viewer or someone with a different perspective, politically or chronologically.  The workshop will therefore consider the contingent relationship between any particular political or ethical stance and any particular aesthetic style.

Although the representational repertoire through which World War II has been addressed includes painting, drama, poetry, dance, monuments, commemorations, museums, and the whole range of practices involved in memorializing and memory work, this workshop will focus on film and photography, suggesting that the camera’s particular efficacy during this particular war is worth examining.  Representations made with the camera, whether the still presences of photography or the moving images of film, were and are potent tools for propagating, resisting, and understanding that era of violence.

Imperial China Graphic

I found an old tattered b/w diagram of “Status and Power” hierarchy in Imperial China in my teaching folders. This diagram was produced by G. William Skinner. It was brought to my attention by Edward L. Farmer, at the University of Minnesota. I scanned it and used my Adobe Illustrator to update it. I’ve not found a better shortcut to explaining, in a simple way, how misleading the tag “peasant” can be as a social category. If you like this image, let me know and I’ll send you a file.

INDS 140: A History of Japanese Culture and Government

January 7th: Hiroshima Peace Park, Museum and Related Sights. This is a picture of the “A-Bomb Dome,” or 原爆ドーム.  The building was erected in 1914 as an industrial promotion hall. It was near the hypocenter of the August 6th, 1945 atomic-bomb attack.

The A-Bomb Dome has come to symbolize the destruction wrought by the weapon. It is being carefully preserved as a monument to the attack, and has been under consideration for World Heritage Site status:

Here is the approach to the Peace Memorial Museum, which includes the Memorial Cenotaph (designed by Kenzo Tange). The students spent a few hours in the museum and looking at the various monuments in the area, also known as the Peace Memorial Park.

 The monuments, parks and museums contain the world “Peace” but the content of all of these sites are related to war, and to a specific war at that. Within a general message that the bomb is a scourge of humanity, and that nuclear weapons must be destroyed to make the earth safe, is a competing story about why the bomb happened to fall on Hiroshima of all places (and not, say, Sidney or Rome). Several plaques in the museum, and at least one memorial statue speak to the role of the Japanese military as an aggressor in China and Korea leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor:

While the first ten or so panels in the museum’s chronological exhibits highlight Hiroshima’s military function in the wars against China, this next plaque indicates how the focus remains upon Japan’s suffering. Even in a discussion of the horrible wars that cost China twenty- to thirty million lives, the effects of economic belt-tightening at home are emphasized. Yet this plaque at least acknowledged the place of China and Korea in the larger story:

Throughout our in-country class, we’ve noticed that most signs for tourists appear in Japanese, English, Korean and Chinese. And we’ve heard all of these languages spoken at various sights and sites. Regarding the atomic bomb, there is also a sub-plot in the museum about Korea’s victimization at the hands of Japan. There is also a special monument built to the Koreans who perished in the blast:

First memorial service for the Koreans who suffered from the attack (1968):

The monument to the Koreans who died or survived, built by an association of Koreans who are resident in Japan:

Taken as a whole, it would seem that students, tourists, and visitors of any sort are left to sort out the meaning of the museum, the park, and the various monuments in Hiroshima for themselves. While the preponderance of images of suffering and destruction focus the local Japanese, there are hints, texts, and suggestions sprinkled throughout the complex that suggest a reality about A-Bombs that is more difficult than simply declaring “no more Hiroshimas” in annual proclamations. As a history teacher, I hope that Hiroshima’s monuments and placards will continue to evolve until a more regional perspective can be presented.

Interestingly, the Shukkei-en, a large Japanese garden that was built by the Asano clan of “Chushingura” fame, has preserved even more evidence of the complexity of A-Bomb memory politics. This monument, which is sustained by the prefecture, invokes a story-line that is recounted in John Hersey’s book Hiroshima. Namely, that Japanese military and police authorities were quite slow to react to the bombing and help victims. Here is a sign at the “Shukkei-en,” presumably the “Asano Park” mentioned in Hersey’s book:

In addition to the a-bomb related activities, we also visited the prefectural museum of modern art, ate Hiroshima-yaki (a seafood/noodle/pancake/pork dish) and rode the street cars around town.

January 6th: Osaka Castle and the 4th Army divisional headquarters. Both built in 1931 w/public subscription. Osaka castle was originally the stronghold of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who is considered by most to be the unifier of Japan (ca. 1590). He also launched invasions of Korea and NE China in the 1590s, as did the Japanese Army in 1931. So there are linkages between the old division headquarters and the castle, though they are not apparent in the signage.

Osaka Castle

4th Army division HQ (1931-1945)

 Northeast Asia Interconnections


First photo for trip:

January 3d, eve of departure

Course Description:

Between 600 and 1868 AD, the literary, religious, architectural, artistic and culinary elements of Japanese civilization were created, refined, and re-invented in tandem with a number of reconfigurations of Japan’s political structure. Over the course of these twelve centuries, before Japan’s political and economic center shifted eastward to Tokyo, most major developments occurred in western Japan, and revolved around the imperial courts in and around Kyoto.

Yoshimasa's Silver Pavilion in Higashiyama area

This interim course will immerse students in the aesthetic and political history of a nation which gave the world its first novel, Zen Buddhism, epic war poetry, samurai castles, sushi, and a number of internationally admired performance and artistic traditions. Within Japan’s sometimes elaborate, and sometimes austere cultural structures, distinct codes of conduct and governance also flourished, and have survived well beyond the passing of the old feudal orders. Through a combination of directed readings, language study, site visits to major monuments, participation in cultural demonstrations, and lecture/discussion classroom activities, students will gain a basic grounding in this most complex and storied history.

While we are in Western Japan, we will also take a day trip to Hiroshima to visit the Peace Park and the sites related to the atomic-bomb attack. Below is a memorial to Hiroshima’s past as a departure point for naval vessels en route to East Asia theaters of war.

Korea in the World: Linkages and Legacies

A Symposium at Lafayette College

November 11, 2011 (Friday)  1:00pm-4:30pm Wilson Room Pfenning Alumni Hall

Korea’s role in international affairs since World War II has been as profound as it is well known.  But the impact of international affairs on the history of the peninsula, and on the lives of over seventy million Koreans, has received comparatively less attention in the American academy.  The purpose of this symposium is to add balance and depth to our understanding of Korea’s role in international affairs by moving beyond the frame that considers Korea as the stage upon which other people’s history is acted out.  In this context, “linkages and legacies” refers to this symposium’s goal of keeping a traditional focus upon Korea’s connections with regional and global structures and dynamics, while putting equal emphasis on the longer history of how entanglements with the international system have impacted Korean society since the 1870s.  In short, “linkages and legacies” asks how the history of Korea’s role in international relations would look if equal weight were given to studying the impact of international relations on the history of Korea.


1:00pm: Welcome, Introductory Remarks:

Angelika von Wahl, International Affairs Program, Lafayette College

Panel One: Linkages

1:15 pm: 

Andrew Yeo, Catholic University, Department of Politics

“Anti-U.S. Base Movements and the Politics of Peace on the Korean Peninsula.”


Il Hyun Cho, Cleveland State University, Department of Political Science

“Nuclear Proliferation and Regional Orders: The Multidimensional Challenge of North Korea and Iran.”

2:15 pm:

Comments by discussant and questions from the audience

Panel Two: Legacies


Seo-Hyun Park, Lafayette College, Department of Government and Law

“Korea’s Search for Sovereignty in the Late 19th Century.”


Paul Barclay, Lafayette College, History

“Korea in the Visual Economy of Japanese Empire: Comparisons with Colonial Taiwan, 1905-1945.”


Comments by discussant and questions from the audience



Robin Rinehart, Lafayette College, Chair of Asian Studies and Department of Religious Studies

Closing remarks and general discussion

This event sponsored by: Department of History, Department of Government and Law, Asian Studies Program, Skillman Library, Policy Studies Program, International Affairs Program and the Dean’s Office of Lafayette College.


a. Linkages

In 1945, with the defeat of Japan, Korea was divided at the 38th parallel by the United States and the Soviet Union.  After disarming Japan, Washington and Moscow backed their respective “client states” in a three-year war (1950-1953) that left millions of Koreans dead while devastating the cities, farms and fields of the peninsula. Henceforth, the U.S. acted as guarantor of allied regimes in South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, and South Vietnam.  This global war against socialism, communism, and anti-imperialist nationalism put the United States and the Soviet Union on a permanent state of military preparedness known as the Cold War.

Today, the Cold War is becoming a memory in Europe and the United States, while Korea remains divided and finds itself at the epicenter of another dispute that involves both Koreans and outside powers.  In 2011, the 38th parallel separates one of Asia’s most vibrant and wealthy capitalist democracies from the world’s most diplomatically isolated and impoverished socialist regime.  No longer of value to its former communist patrons as a model for socialist development,  North Korea (DPRK) has become reliant on the development of nuclear weapons as its only international bargaining chip.  As one of the most infamous examples of a “rogue state,” North Korea has become a flashpoint for current international anti-nuclear proliferation disputes.

Whereas in the early 1950s Koreans played host to contending Chinese, Americans, and Russians whose major priorities were geo-strategic and only secondarily regarded the interests of Koreans, the Six Party talks of more recent vintage display a similar mixture of motives and agendas: some local, but most geo-strategic.

b. Legacies

While these two watersheds, the beginning and end of the Cold War, mark the most well known conjunctures of Korean history and international affairs, events on the Korean peninsula have portended epochal shifts in global balances of power and transformations of the international order for some 150 years.  In the late nineteenth century, the United States, Japan, Russia, China, and England all targeted the so-called “Hermit Kingdom” for foreign investment, missionary activity, and diplomatic intrigue.  In the face of foreign pressure, patriotic Koreans founded reform movements to secure popular sovereignty in the face of dynastic inertia and the imperialist threat.  These movements sent Korean scholars, statesmen, and soldiers to East Asia, Europe, and North America in search of aid and solutions.  Today, in the Republic of Korea, this late-nineteenth century burst of intellectual, political, and technological creativity is an important reference point for imagining a progressive, democratic Korean future that is not contingent upon externalities for its integrity and dynamism.

Before these efforts could bear fruit, however, Japanese, Chinese and Russian armies fought each other in Korea to deny the peninsula to rival states.  As a result of the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95 and the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05, Korea lost its sovereignty, though not its relevance.  As a colony or protectorate of Japan from 1905 to 1945, Koreans launched a popular press, authored modern literary movements, started up industrial enterprises, and fought armed resistance against the colonizers, creating the nationalist, capitalist, and anti-colonial impetuses that defined post-liberation politics after the Japanese defeat.

c. Linkages and Legacies

Thus, we argue, the history of Korea before the Cold War must be understood before the dynamics of contemporary Korean interactions with the world can be comprehended.  Therefore, we dedicate our first panel to detailed analysis of two aspects of this lesser known, pre-Cold War period of “Korea in the World.” These papers will focus on pre-1945 “legacies” that have continued to shape developments and consciousness on the peninsula well into the 21st century.  The second panel, “Linkages,” will focus on the Korea’s place in the global security system.  Both presenters in this second panel will add new perspectives as scholars well grounded in the languages and histories of Korea and East Asia.






Northeast Asia Interconnections

From July 30 to August 16 Lafayette Students visited various cities in China and Korea as part of an interim course to study political, cultural, migratory, and historical interconnections in Northeast Asia. Luckily, the teachers for the course allowed me to tag along.

These photos are from the bridge that connects Dandong, China to Sinuiju, DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea). One of the bridges carries freight and passengers between the two countries, and the other has been left damaged as a reminder of the American bombing campaigns of the war known as the “Korean War” (1950-53) in the United States.

The Ferris Wheel is on the DPRK side of the river

Train bound for China

The two bridges at night

The un-reconstructed bridge was built by the Japanese after the “protectorate” was established in 1905.  This bridge was the subject of many a Japanese publicity photo advertising the modernity of the colonial regime.  This signboard explains this bridge as an “engineering marvel” because of the horizontal revolving beam that allowed a section of the bridge to become perpendicular to the rest of the bridge to allow the passage of tall ships. According to this sign, the bridge was built in 1908.

The gear works of the Dandong-Sinuiju Bridge have been turned into a mini-museum, which seems to be an unwitting tribute to Japanese colonial engineering

Japanese postcard of the Dandong-Sinuiju bridge ca. 1920

Another Japanese postcard of the “swing bridge” over the Yalu. ca. 1930

Asian Studies Japan Conference, Tokyo

Thanks to the organizers and my fellow panelists for an informative conference in Tokyo, and especially thanks to Yamamoto Masashi and Vicky Muehleisen for putting up with me for a whole week!

Session 35: Room 316

The Exhibitionary Complex and the Police State: Imperial Pedagogy in Taiwan under
Japanese Rule

Organizer: Paul Barclay, Lafayette College
Chair: Robert Eskildsen, J.F. Oberlin University

This panel conceptualizes several examples of imperial pedagogy in colonial Taiwan as parts of an “exhibitionary complex.” Japanese visionaries, employing techniques explored in the papers, configured the peoples, places, and built environment of Taiwan as a series of exhibits to be viewed, categorized, and displayed for the purposes of statecraft, economic gain, and discipline. By shifting the focus of culture-studies inspired scholarship to individual “exhibitors,” and the agency of the “exhibited,” these papers also argue that colonial “exhibits” were constructed in a context of intra-governmental conflict and local constraints. Caroline Hui-yu’s paper shows how the 1925 Taipei Police Exhibition, ostensibly staged to instruct Taiwanese subjects in “everyday modernity,” could also serve as an arena of competition between recently arrived Japanese policemen and “Taiwan Hands” for influence in the colonial state. Sōyama Takeshi’s paper analyzes government-sponsored tourism as a mechanism for enforcing spatial boundaries between Japanese and Taiwanese in the realm of leisure, while tourism also sought to erase boundaries in the realm of political identity. During the post-1937 period, Taiwanese subverted this pedagogical enterprise by disguising trips to Chinese folk temples as visits to Shinto shrines. Paul Barclay’s paper argues that model villages in Taiwan’s “indigenous territories” failed as commercialized tourism “exhibits.” Nonetheless, they provided image-hungry foreigners with photo-ops that played upon shared Japanese and Western assumptions about the place of indigenes in the international order. These journalists portrayed Japan’s polices favorably abroad, thus vindicating a security apparatus often at odds with the tourism industry.

1) Hui-yu Caroline Ts’ai, Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica
Everyday Coloniality, Social Networking, and Knowledge Production: The 1925 Taipei Police

The interwar years serve as an intriguing period for the analysis of “everyday coloniality.” Following current academic interest in questions of “vision,” this “new” turn of colonial studies tends to rest on a rich ground of “things visible” and “tangible.” The problem, however, is that history is more often than not being abridged or curtailed, and the attempt to seek historical facts is sometimes muted in the process. This case study of the 1925 Taipei Police exhibition illustrates just this need to bring history back to textual analysis. Since the 1925 Taipei exhibition was unique in the way that it seems to have been the only recorded hygienic exhibition initiated by the police in colonial Taiwan, the questions I will ask include arts and culture of the Taishō period (such as music, movies, radio, advertisements, and leisure entertainment), the supporting groups which helped or donated the displayed items, and the makeup of the “old Taiwan hands” (mainly, the police staff and the range of the social networking). Ultimately, I am interested in how Imperial Japan managed to produce its colonial knowledge about Taiwan.

2) Takeshi Soyama, Kyushu Sangyo University
Tourism under Japan’s Colonial Rule in Taiwan: From the Perspectives of Privilege,
Exclusion, Assimilation and Resistance

Japan’s colonial rule in Taiwan caused Japanese cultural concessions in Taiwan. For the Japanese who lived in Taiwan, Taiwan was an extension of the Japanese mainland, and of course, this was also true for the Taiwanese and native Taiwanese. This concept of an extension of the Japanese mainland was categorized into two types. One type was privileged spaces for Japanese people, such as Japanese-style hot springs and inns. The general Taiwanese population tended to be excluded from these attractions that had Japanese cultural characteristics. Elementary school excursions were the only opportunity for access to such places. At the time, elementary schools for Taiwanese children were to assimilate children into Japanese culture. These facilities for assimilation, such as elementary schools and shrines, constituted the second type of extension of the Japanese mainland. In 1937, when the Sino-Japanese War broke out, the Governor-General of Taiwan began to force the Taiwanese to visit and worship at Japanese shrines. In the meantime, the Taiwanese urged the Governor-General Railroad Section to conspiratorially conceal their “joss house” (Chinese folk temple) tours under the disguise of Japanese shrine tours. This situation shows that assimilation and compulsion were cleverly transformed into resistance in the context of colonialism and tourism.

3) Paul Barclay, Lafayette College
Ethnic Tourism, Wartime Surveillance and Public Relations: The Taiwan Photography of
Harrison Forman

On April 1, 1938, the photo journalist Harrison Forman began a tour of Taiwan. Forman’s visit came at a nadir in U.S.-Japanese relations, just after the Nanjing massacres. Although only a few photographs from Forman’s excursion were published, they provide, in conjunction with his unpublished diary and over sixty archived photographic negatives, a telling example of how Japanese officials and merchants utilized the infrastructure of tourism to manage the image of Japanese empire abroad. The great majority of Forman’s images depicted Taiwan Indigenous Peoples, who constituted less that 2% of Taiwan’s population. In general, cameras were tightly regulated and photography discouraged on the home islands and in Taiwan. Nonetheless, the colonial state encouraged the production and dissemination of photographs of Taiwan Indigenous Peoples. Pamphlets, postcards, and illustrated books were readily available at train stations, small shops, and the tourist bureau and freely distributed to foreign guests. This paper asks why Taiwan Indigenous Peoples were treated as the privileged face of Taiwan in the 1930s, while previously they had symbolized the failure of the government general to govern the island. I argue that image-conscious officials and thrill-seeking Westerners found common ground on guided tours to model villages in the “Aborigine Territory.” There, visitors recorded impressions of an orderly yet exotic colony while police officers monitored their movements on easily patrolled interior routes. In the bargain, visitors were diverted from Taiwan’s military installations and other vistas deemed embarrassing or sensitive by the colonial government.

Discussant: Robert Eskildsen, J.F. Oberlin University