The Newsletter 65 Autumn 2013

Chinese descendants in East Asia under Japanese colonialism

Leo Douw

The workshop on Border societies at ICAS 8, Macao , 25 June 2013
Organizers : Leo Douw, University of Amsterdam, VU University Amster dam and Timothy Tsu, Kwansei Gakuin University , Nishinomiya

Our workshop en gaged with the history of Chinese migrations around the countries of East Asia. There is a big challenge involved in this, especially when discussing the period of Japanese colonialism (1895-1945). For decades, the assertion of national interests has been preponderant in the public debate about that period: think of the official endorsement of schoolbook texts on World War II in Japan, or the island disputes between China and Japan, and between Japan and South Korea. In the same vein, the Chinese migrant populations in Japan, Korea and Taiwan are usually studied from a national perspective, which emphasizes the migrants’ foreignness to their local environments. There is a call for the construction of a regional history, which accepts the importance of national contestations over important issues, but that, at the same time, looks at what has been commonly shared during the region’s development over time, and has contributed to its rise in the modern world. Chinese migrations in the region provide a natural and productive vantage point for the writing of such a history.

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