HIS 477 - War & Post-War Memory in Asia
Why did a war that was fought in the name of a “Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere” result in millions of deaths in Asia and leave Japan’s major cities in ruins? Today, nearly eighty years after the end of the war, why do historical interpretations of the Asia Pacific War continue to be so politically charged in East Asia? To explore these questions, this seminar will analyze Japanese, Chinese, and Korean people’s experiences of wartime Japan. We will also explore how individuals and diverse groups in East Asia have narrated these experiences and how historical memory continues to be put to political use today. The course will start with the colonization of Korea in 1910 and deal with the entirety of the wartime experience to 1945. Next, the course will focus on how memories of the war shaped domestic politics, international relations, and national identity in Japan, China, and Korea in the post-war period.
The “Pacific War,” the “Fourteen Year War,” “World War II,” the “Asia-Pacific War,” and the “Greater East Asian War” all refer to the same general time period and series of events, but each of these names has very different political meanings. The various terms used to describe the period during which Japan was at war demonstrate how naming and memory work together. In this seminar, we will consider how imperialism and colonialism of both the Euro-American and Japanese varieties were central to the war’s outbreak, conduct, and resolution. We will also explore various local experiences - rather than simply national experiences and memories - of the war. These will include the experiences and memories of marginalized groups in Japan and its colonies, “comfort women,” victims of war atrocities, Japanese North Americans, and Pacific Islanders. In addition to learning about key issues in the study of the Second World War in the Asia Pacific region, students in this course will also come to critically analyze and reconsider mainstream views of the war.
Satisfies History major and minor requirement.
Satisfies East Asian Studies major and minor requirement.
Satisfies Historical Thought requirement.
Satisfies Cultural Diversity requirement.