Imperial Japan, Territorial Imagination and the Social Construction of Colonies
Published by the University of California Press in 2017, Placing Empire: Travel and the Social Imagination in Imperial Japan, authored by Kate McDonald, is available in Open Access at the Open Research Library, as part of the University of California Press Luminos collection.
A Blog Post by Pablo Markin.
Placing Empire examines the spatial politics of Japanese imperialism through a study of Japanese travel and tourism to Korea, Manchuria, and Taiwan between the late nineteenth century and the early 1950s. In a departure from standard histories of Japan, this book shows how debates over the place of colonized lands reshaped the social and spatial imaginary of the modern Japanese nation. In turn, this socio-spatial imaginary affected the ways in which colonial difference was conceptualized and enacted. The book thus illuminates how ideas of place became central to the production of new forms of colonial hierarchy as empires around the globe transitioned from an era of territorial acquisition to one of territorial maintenance.
In her introduction to this work, Kate McDonald cogently underscores that
“Japan was a great imperial power during the first half of the twentieth century. This much is well known. But it is perhaps less well known that between 1868, when the new Meiji government formally colonized the island of Hokkaidō, and 1952, when the Japanese government formally renounced sovereignty over Taiwan, Korea, the Kuriles, the southern portion of the island of Karafuto (Russian […] Sakhalin), and the League of Nations Mandate Territory in Micronesia (Japanese Nan’yō), the Japanese government possessed no single mechanism for differentiating, legally or politically, between colonized and Japanese territory. Even after the acquisition of Taiwan in 1895, generally used to mark the beginning of Japan’s formal empire, there was never a coherent practice of referring to colonized lands as “colonies” (shokuminchi). Instead, they were the “new territories”; they were “regions”; they were “territories governed by governors general.” Anything but colonies. In fact, the spatial order of the empire was so liminal that when the administration of Korea and Taiwan was placed under the aegis of a new Ministry of Colonial Affairs in 1929, Japanese residents of Korea complained so vociferously that Prime Minister Tanaka Giichi was forced to assure them that the ministry would “not treat Korea as a colony”” (McDonald, 2017, pp. 1-2).
Edited by Pablo Markin
McDonald, Kate. Placing Empire. Oakland: University of California Press, 2017. Accessed September 1, 2020. https://openresearchlibrary.org.
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