'Travel' can evoke a variety of images, from luxurious freedom to forced migration. The luxurious side of this imagery is dependent on racial, economic, and even gendered factors. During the era of European and British colonialism, Gertrude Bell, Freya Stark, and Isabella Bird became famous as female adventurers who, due to their racial and economic privilege, ventured through the colonised spaces of the Middle East and Asia, defying Victorian era strictures of proper female behaviour. But what about women of Imperial Japan?
Specifically, I am examining how women's travel is depicted in the colonial journal Taiwan fujinkai (台湾婦人界, Taiwan women's world), which was Taiwan's only commercial journal written in Japanese for women living in Taiwan during the latter part of the 1930s. Founded by Koga Chiyoko, her vision was to create a magazine for women in Taiwan whose lifestyles and challenges were different from those of women living in Japan.
As indicated by its title, Taiwan fujinkai was meant to create a community for both Japanese and Taiwanese women readers residing in Taiwan. The concept of travel, both figuratively and literally, becomes an important motif to connect the two countries into a single entity through the imagery of the Japanese imperial female traveller.
From February to July 2022, Professor Anne Sokolsky holds the Chair of Taiwan Studies at IIAS and Leiden University, where she will both teach and conduct research.