Event — Lecture

Making of Dark Heritage in Contemporary Japan

Lecture by Dr Jung-Sun HAN (Associate Professor at the Division of International Studies, Korea University)

Lecture by Dr Jung-Sun HAN (Associate Professor at the Division of International Studies, Korea University). Drinks afterwards.

The lecture

This presentation examines the surge of war memories attached to places in Japan from the 1990s onwards, in order to study the process and the nature of recent war memories and to identify agents of such remembering in civil society. Although the centrality of place in making and remaking both individual and collective memories has been pointed out before in general terms, there are few studies that delve into the multi-layered connections between experiencing places and remembering war memories in postwar Japan. Dr HAN will first discuss a grassroots concern manifested in the development of the “archaeology of war-related sites,” in relation to the establishment of the Japanese Network to Protect War-Related Sites. Such developments will be examined within the politics of “cultural property” and “World Heritage,” both in domestic and international arenas. She will then introduce local movements in Matsushiro and Okayama. Matsushiro hosts gigantic underground shelters and tunnels to relocate the Imperial General Headquarters, while Okayama has the underground plants of the Mitsubishi Heavy Industry Company. In doing so, she argues that the conservation movement is challenging the homogenizing national war memory by attaching ethnically diversified vernacular memories to the underground sites.

The speaker

Dr. HAN, Jung-Sun is Associate Professor at the Division of International Studies, Korea University. Majoring in modern and contemporary Japanese history and culture, Han has worked on interwar and wartime Japanese political thoughts and on the Japan-Korea relations on the basis of the visual culture of modern Japan. Her books include An Imperial Path to Modernity: Yoshino Sakuzo and a New Liberal Order in East Asia, 1905-1937 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2012) and Drawing an Empire: Japanese Cartoon Journalism and Colonization of Korea (co-authored, Seoul: Ilchogak, 2006). Drawing an Empire has won the best academic book prize in Korea and has been translated into Japanese (Tokyo: Akashi Shoten, 2010). Currently, Han studies contemporary Japanese civic activities on conserving war-related sites as ‘dark heritage.’ By probing into the dynamics of place and memory in post-1945 Japan, Han is researching the grassroots movements to protect and conserve war-related sites and how civil activities have rendered different meanings to postwar Japan by incorporating vernacular war memories.


Ms Heleen van der Minne, h.m.van.der.minne@iias.nl

Inline image © Raul654, CC BY-SA 3.0