As the engine of second industrial revolution, chemical industry undoubtedly is the most important sector in modern European and American economy. In East Asia, the Japanese eagerly devoted themselves on developing chemical industry from late Meiji era. They saw chemical industry as a symbol of modernization and industrialization which was demonstrated as a criterion for competing and even overtaking their Euro-American counterparts. With the ever-flourishing development of chemical industry in the first quarter of the Twentieth-Century, chemical products gradually permeate daily life and dramatically trans/forms our material culture and attitude toward body. Mantled by this "chemicalisation of everyday life", I proposed modern person as "Homo Chymia" would not be too exaggerated. How to comprehend this "Homo Chymia", and how to interpret the shifting process of Asian to be this "Homo Chymia" by differentiate the role and weighing the influence of Japanese and its colonies in this alteration? In response to these questions, I will explore two main themes during my fellowship at the IIAS:
1. Formation of material condition of Homo Chymia in Asia
In the empire of Japanese chemical industry, Taiwan and Southeast Asia both play important role in supplying the basic row material of organic and inorganic industry to Japan in the prewar era. Before 1920s, most of the camphor for world celluloid production was supplied from Taiwan, while rubber for plastic production from Southeast Asia. After the outbreak of Sino-Japanese war in 1937, Taiwan became the military base for Japan Empire "marching to the South". For predominating the military and industrial resources, Taiwan and its southeast Asian neighbour were all integrated and identified by the Japanese as "the South of the Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere". How did this "Co-prosperity Sphere" construct and operate? What were the routes flowing in these networks, and what was the division of labour in different regions allocated? Finally, what kind of chemical knowledge and technology was transmitted and translated into these "Sphere" under the need for maintaining its operation?
2. The power relation of Homo Chymia in Asia
The chemical products manufactured by the Japanese and western enterprises were, and still are widely spread out not only in Taiwan but also in the whole East Asia from the twentieth century onward. Did the Asian produce the same chemical products by the same technological and social base as their Euro-American counterparts? Did they perceive these products in the same aspect? Did the knowledge of chemistry transfer concurrently and similarly in the empire wide of Japan, or would there be any block of this technology transferring for keeping the predominance of the empire? How did the Asian surmount if this barricade of knowledge exists?