Over 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).
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 Images unique to this collection include the Warners’ unpublished slides and negatives , made from snapshots taken during their years of US State Department service in Asia (1932-1952).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:
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
First photo for trip:
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.
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.
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
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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 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.