latest publication











Reviews (from UC Press website):

“Paul Barclay’s exploration of indigenous histories in Taiwan is sophisticated and engaging. This highly original narrative of a formative period will be of great interest to all those concerned with comparative colonial history.”—Nicholas Thomas, Professor of Historical Anthropology, University of Cambridge

“Barclay’s work reveals how indigeneity evolved coevally with capitalist imperialism and nationalism during the last century. It is a multisided and multiscale analysis—incorporating global, regional, and local scales—and it is embedded in a coherent and compelling narrative. Analysts are greatly concerned about resource frontiers in today’s world; this study furnishes them with an indispensable historical framework.”—Prasenjit Duara, Oscar Tang Professor of East Asian Studies, Duke University

“Analytically precise and theoretically ambitious, Barclay’s wonderful new book examines the entanglements of the interstate system, indigeneity, and sovereignty through the case of Japanese-occupied Taiwan. A must-read for anyone interested in the fate of indigenous peoples under modern colonialism.”—Louise Young, author of Japan’s Total Empire: Manchuria and the Culture of Wartime Imperialism

Luminos Open Access digital edition (click here)

Purchase paperback edition ($35)   UC Press Barnes&Noble  Amazon

Upcoming book launch, Dec. 8, University of Toronto:

University of California blogpost re: Outcasts of Empire:

Course adoptions:
Instructor: Professor Ian Jared Miller, Harvard University,
HIST 2653 – Historiography of Modern Japan: Proseminar.

Instructor: Senior Lecturer Christopher Gerteis, SOAS, University of London,
Japanese Modernity II
H283 Modern Japan


Musha 1930: History, Memory, Culture 《霧社1930: 歷史、記憶、文化》

Three-day workshop at beautiful Royce Hall, UCLA.

Front row: Kieu-fen Chiu, Darryl Sterk, Paul Barclay, Bob Tierney, Dakis Pawan, Wan Jen, Leo Ching. Middle Row: Jiajun Liang, Toulouse-Antonin Roy. Back Row: Michael Berry, Bakan Pawan, Deng Shian-yang, Wu Chien-heng, Ping-hui Liao
1930s postcard of the Japanese memorial to the fallen from the Musha Incident.

Ren’ai Township, 2010, possible site of the former Japanese  monument.

Wushe, from a 1934 Japanese photograph album

Ren’ai town in 2010 (formerly Wushe).

Site of the Mona Rudo Anti-Japanese Commemoration Monuments (above on google maps; the next five images are from this site)

Statue of Mona Rudo, 2010, near Ren’ai township, Nantou Province

The grave of Mona Rudo, 2010

Derryl Sterk, Dakis Pawan and Bakan Pawan make plenary remarks

(Above) Workshop organizer, film and literature scholar Michael Berry, filmmaker Wan Jen and historian Deng Shian-yang discuss Wan Jen’s 20-hour TV series Dana Sakura, based on story by Deng Shian-yang (next two photos)

Deng Shian-yang’s pioneering books about the Musha Incident

Leo Ching, author of the first English-language scholarly treatments of the Musha Incident and the famous book Becoming Japanese. 

The lodging for the workshop attendees, right on campus.

The Hitodome Pass, on the road from Puli to Ren’ai. In 1900, Tgdaya warriors ambushed advancing Japanese troops. They used their knowledge of terrain and defensive of warfare to defeat the imperial forces.

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:


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.

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.






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

Visualizing Asia in the Modern World

I participated in a wonderful conference held at Harvard under the auspices of the Visualizing Cultures project hosted by MIT.  From the conference website:

“The Visualizing Cultures project at M.I.T. and the following programs at Harvard: Asia Center, Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Korea Institute, and the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies are pleased to announce an academic conference focused on the relationship between visual imagery and social change in modern Asia entitled, “Visualizing Asia in the Modern World.” This will be the second in a series of academic conferences devoted to “image-driven scholarship” and teaching about Asia in the modern world.

We have selected scholars of history, art history, history of photography, and history of technology specializing in China, Korea, Japan, United States, and Europe to discuss how to integrate visual and textual media in research and teaching, using to the fullest the opportunities presented by the new technologies and the use of the internet as a publishing platform.”

The conference program has an outstanding list of participants with a fascinating diversity of projects that utilize original and revealing but hitherto largely inaccessible visual resources some of which may be suitable for further development as Visualizing Cultures units.”

Joint Conference of the Association for Asian Studies & International Convention of Asia Scholars

March 31-April 3, 2011, Honolulu Hawai’i (Hawai’i Convention Center)

Statue in front of the Convention Center

This was a great conference not only for the weather and beautiful surroundings, but also for the experience of participating on a panel with so many learned scholars, who are also wonderful colleagues. Here’s our panel:

Session 300: Behind and Beyond the Lens: Photography in Imperial Japan, 1896-1945

Organizer: Paul D. Barclay, Lafayette College, USA

Chair: Laura Hein, Northwestern University, USA

Discussant: Laura Hein, Northwestern University, USA

This panel examines photography in its multiple roles as instrument, beneficiary, and victim of empire. Specifically, the papers consider conquest photography in Taiwan (1890s), commercial photography in Korea (1910s-1930s), a newsreel photographer in China and Taiwan (1930s), and art photography during the Fifteen Year War (1930s and 1940s). As these case studies demonstrate, photography surely aestheticized violence, obfuscated power relations, and pandered to voyeurism to make empire emotionally plausible, even attractive. At the same time, we argue that the relationship between the gun and the camera in imperial Japan could be quite oblique, if not troubled. By considering imperial photography as a dynamic enterprise, engaged in by amateurs, professionals, and artists under varied technological and political constraints, we draw attention to discontinuities and dead ends. Though camp followers in 1890s Taiwan were urged to push the medium’s limits as an instrument of mobilization, for example, the state thwarted photographic engagement with war in the 1940s. Moreover, we argue that specific material forms were suited to different kinds of ideological work. While photographs of carnage in Nanjing and Wuhan filled commemorative albums, postcards and glossy brochures retailed images of exotic and contented fellow Asians. For all of its diversity, however, Japanese imperial photography produced a singular cumulative effect. Decades of variation upon a limited number of themes, the incessant reproduction of a pool of stock images, and the wavering support of an overweening state overdetermined imperial Japanese photography’s exhaustion as a vital force by the end of its 50-year career.

Colonial Itineraries: Japanese “Conquest Photography” in Taiwan, 1896-1899
Joseph R. Allen, University of Minnesota, USA

My paper explores early photographic production by the Japanese colonists in Taiwan as manifested in two halftone printed albums (shashinchō), dating from 1896 and 1899. I argue that the first of these albums, that documenting the military campaign to conquer the island in 1895, established a general structural and thematic shape for later albums, including for the travel guide seen in the second album. In part, this was in the photographic trope of “encampment.” Not only did this early “conquest narrative” inform later albums, it also offered a general heuristic model by which the island came to be known to both the colonizing power and the colonized subject. The island was construed as an entity to be known as an itinerary, not as a residence. Those early models continued to inform photographic constructions of Taiwan throughout the colonial and even into the postcolonial period, contributing to the island’s ongoing state of conditionality—that is, its social reality always being construed as dependent on another cultural agent.

Romancing the “Conquered Other” in the Korean Peninsula: Travel Myths, Images, and the Imperial Tourist Gaze
Hyung I Pai, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA

Visages of dancing courtesans and white-robed peasants framed by decaying ruins of pagodas, temples, and palaces are the most recognized tourist images representing the time-less beauty of Korea’s cultural landscape. This study traces the colonial origins of travel photography, postcards, and guidebooks mass produced by Imperial Japan’s travel industry when they expanded into the newly acquired colonies in Korea and Manchuria in the early twentieth century. Following decisive military victories in the Sino-Japanese (1895) and Russo-Japanese War ( 1905), both public and private, large and small operators from international steamship liners, Japan Tourist Bureau (JTB), the Korea Branch of the Japan Imperial Government Railways Co., South Manchuria Railways Co. and local Japanese settlers’ owned businesses (trams, taxi cos. station hotels, hot springs inns, photographic studios, newspapers, department stores, geisha houses) in colonized cities and towns worked together to lure the growing numbers of colonialists, leisure tourists, students, soldiers, and businessmen to purchase round-trip packaged tours via Japan, Korea and Manchuria (Naichi). This paper analyzes how geo-political factors, aesthetic preferences as well as commercial agendas have determined the selections process of a handful of highly romanticized and exoticized ‘stock images’ representing ‘Koreana’ targeting a world audience for more than century.

When a Thousand Words aren’t Worth a Single Picture: Harrison Forman, The China War and Propaganda by Misdirection
Paul D. Barclay, Lafayette College, USA

This paper analyzes the uniquely detailed documentation left behind by newsreel photographer Harrison Forman regarding conditions for photographers in 1938 Taiwan. It attempts to explain how an otherwise enterprising investigative reporter became an unwitting mouthpiece for Japanese imperialists. For despite the damning observations recorded in his diary, Forman published a sympathetic account of the Government General’s work in Taiwan. Photography as a medium, I argue, tipped the balance. At the height of the second Sino-Japanese War, police restrictions on the movement of photographers operated in tandem with profligate image distribution. By shunting foreigners off to model villages in the interior and providing lavish hospitality in resorts, as well as numerous photo-opportunities, ever-present police minders helped recast Japanese colonial rule as a civilizing mission vis-à-vis Taiwan’s Indigenous Peoples. Forman returned to America in possession of an ostensibly eye-witness photographic record of Indigenous Taiwanese customs and manners, buttressed by officially distributed photographs of Japan’s struggles to stamp out headhunting in the recent past. This thematically consistent visual record simply overpowered the doubt-ridden scribbles in Forman’s notebook. Not only was Taiwan’s role in the war on China thus obscured, but repressive policies in urban Taiwan were pushed to the background.

A War Without Pictures: Photography’s Curious Position in Wartime Japan
Julia Adeney Thomas, University of Notre Dame, USA

Between 1937 and 1945, Japan’s government and the military used almost every imaginable means to mobilize the nation behind the conquest of Asia. Technologically capable and aesthetically astute, Japanese photographers also sought to inspire public support for imperialism, and yet, as I will argue, photography never galvanized the nation. This paper raises two questions. First, why did photography not play a bigger role in the Japanese war effort, especially given the culture’s sophisticated understanding of the visual arts? In comparison with America and Europe, there are few canonical pictures of Japan’s struggle, sacrifice, victories and defeats during the years of fighting. The magazines produced for the domestic market were drab compared with the glossy, glorifying publications produced for the non-Japanese market. Aesthetic experimentation, rather than being harnessed to energize the war effort, was discouraged. In short, what does it tell us that Japan’s war was, in essence, a modern war where photography played a surprisingly limited role? My second question follows on from the first. Is photography the same the world over as many photography theorists insist? If photographs in wartime Japan played a different role than they did in other militarized nations, it shows, I argue, that this “universal technology” is far from universal. I will demonstrate how social and ideological conditions in Japan constructed a distinct place for the photographic image in the 1940s.

I also made my first visit to the Pearl Harbor historic sites run by the national park service. I visited the history museums attached to the USS Arizona memorial, also known as the “WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument.”

The historic sites include the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park, the Battleship Missouri Memorial, and the Pacific Aviation Museum.

Of particular interest to me was the historical framing of the attack at the exhibit. The “sneak attack” idea has been considerably tempered by a much broader analysis of twentieth century history. In essence, as the gateway plaque below indicates, the attacks were prefaced by a century of Pacific expansion by the U.S. and Japan (1853-1941). This longer view is more consonant with that put forth by serious scholars of Japanese history, who try to understand how a more-or-less “normal” industrialized power (for the time) would embark on such a seemingly self-destructive course. Interestingly, I bumped into a historian on the shuttle boat to the memorial who had consulted for the museum as a Japanese expert. This historian suggested that the initial drafts of the textual component of the museum were in dire need of such expertise. On the whole, I think the park service did a creditable job on this museum.

“A Gathering Storm” is different than a “Day that will live in Infamy”

But the story of Yoshikawa Takeo, the spy who sent photographic information about Oahu (where Pearl Harbor is located) to Japan still gets pride of place.

U.S. pop culture from the 1930s. Perhaps a “clever” people, Japanese were not considered by many to be capable of standing toe-to-toe with a the U.S. Navy in a real war. A classic case of misunderestimation.

On this poster, European activities in the Pacific are aggrandizing, while the American presence is characterized as a “search for markets.”  And yet, a picture from the Philippines 1898, site of a bloodily aggressive U.S. territorial conquest, is affixed below the ambiguous captioning. Certainly an example of exhibit by committee. On the one hand, the United States is not the same kind of imperialist aggressor as the Europeans and Japanese, but at the same time, it is in global competition for resources, markets and territories. And so it goes.

Imperial Calendar(s)

Postcards commemorating milestones in Japanese imperial rule in China. These images and captions reveal that almost any action that aggrandized Japanese empire in the early twentieth century was deemed worthy of serial commemoration by postcard manufacturers and Japanese consumers. What was/is the significance of this proclivity, and the form it took?   Coming soon from the East Asia Image Collections at Skillman Library, Special Collections

“The First New Year after the Conquest of Germany.” (Qingdao)

“Year 3 of the outbreak of the “Manchurian Incident” September 18th [1931]

The Manchu Emperor’s Imperial Visit to Tokyo April 6, 1935

“3d Year of the China Incident Poster: July 7 [1937]”

“The Fall of Hankou Commemoration October 27th, 1938”

Brave New World: Manchuria under Japanese Rule

To expand our holdings in Japanese-period postcards of colonized East Asia, we have been acquiring various types of images and texts from China’s three northeast provinces, called “Manchukuo” by the Japanese who installed a government there from 1932-1945. The snapshots below were taken by U.S. Vice-Consul Gerald Warner in 1934. The postcards were purchased in Tokyo and Osaka in the summer of 2010. The juxtaposition of snapshot and postcard shows how the commercial imagery of Manchuria predisposed tourists and visiting officials like Warner to see the colony. At the same time, Warner captured images that appear to have been honest attempts to capture something of life in colonized Manchuria beyond that depicted in the familiar genre shots of postcards.

The first card lays bare the power relations that buttressed all of the other scenery presented in Japanese imagery of their frontier empire.  It proudly boasts:

“The Kwanto Army Headquarters which is one of our Nippon representatives. The building, somewhere castle-like style, is very imposing and has dignity that anyone can not violate.”

Consul Warner was probably given a tour of the memorialized battlefields of the 1931 conquest. Here is one of his snapshots from the Beidaying barracks, which were emptied of Chinese troops right after the Japanese attack on Shenyang/Mukden on September 18, 1931:

This postcard, issued sometime just prior to Warner’s tour, presents a similar scene with a terse description:

〔奉天 北大営) 第一中隊長小野大尉奮戦の地 機關銃槍連兵舎の一部

[Trans.:] “The site of 1st Army Commander Captain Ono’s desperate battle. A section of the machine-gun damaged barracks.”

As with other colonies, Japanese postcard producers issued numerous sets of “Customs and Manners” series to depict either the unique folkways of the empire’s many peoples, or perhaps to give a glimpse of the peaceful uninterrupted lives of imperial Japan’s contented subjects.

満州風俗 路傍で公演中の街の手品師

“A street juggler playing tricks at the road side Manchuoukuo”

Warner’s own snapshot of popular entertainment from the streets of Shenyang:

One of the most common themes of Japanese colonial postcards is that of “old” versus “new.”  Below is a government-issue card depicting the modern Japanese constructed port of Dalian in contrast to the traditional donkey and cart form of transportation that prevailed in Northeast China at the time:

Lastly, a snapshot from Consul Warner’s camera showing a street scene in the sleepy border town of Manzhouli, near the Mongolian and Russian borders: