Multiple "Early Modernities" in 20th century Japan

Subproject by Michael Facius

The project aims to contribute to a reevaluation of concepts of “modernity” by interrogating the ways in which Japanese actors apprehended the characteristics, spatiality and temporality of the Early Modern period and its relationship to the present. The project situates itself in relation to recent conceptual debates in global history about “early modernities” and a growing interest in the representations of temporality in history. It probes into the complex dynamics between academic and non-academic ways of relating to the past and looks beyond the common conceptualization of the Edo period as primarily a reservoir for the construction of national memory and consciousness.

The project is comprised of four case studies that illuminate different arenas, periods and intersections of national and imperial, regional and global spaces: (1) Concepts of the Early Modern and kinsei and in academic historiography, (2) representations of the Korean/Taiwanese “Early Modern” in Japanese tourism, (3) uses of the concept of the “closed country” (sakoku) in public discourse, and (4) exhibitions about the 17th century Sino-Japanese cultural mediators Yinyuan and Zhu Shunshui.