- Yokohama as a Site of Transcultural History: Western Consular Courts in Meiji-Japan
Yokohama as a Site of Transcultural History: Western Consular Courts in Meiji-Japan
Harald Fuess （東京大学社会科学研究所客員教授／Professor in the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe” at Heidelberg University）
日時：2010年 9月14日 15時-17時
History since the nineteenth century is usually recounted as the master narrative of the emerging nation-states in Europe and later in Asia and their respective drives to modernize or catch-up with political and economic developments elsewhere. The history profession itself was often supported and funded by the respective nation-states to sing its praises and imbue its legitimacy. So strong is the national orientation that the first question one is usually asked is “of what nation are you a historian”? The usual second question would be “and of what time period”? While thematic or methodological subdivisions exist like intellectual history or social and economic history, they often are submerged within the overarching expectation of one’s specialization within a nation. The writing of Japanese history is especially prone to insularity, partly due to practical issues of language barriers faced by both Japanese or non-Japanese historians but also because of a sense that there is or was something “unique” about the first country in Asia to industrialize while not becoming a Western colony and embarking on its own imperial expansion.
The collaborative “Asian Sea” project explores the theoretical and geographical gaps opened by our national histories of modernity or multiple modernities by exploring the connections and commonalities between Europe and Asia and especially within the Asian region across maritime space and its coastal borders and hinterlands. It asks the counterfactual question how our worldview would change if we look a seascape no longer in possessive national terms as “Japan Sea”, Chinese Sea,” “Korean Sea,” and “Indian Ocean.” It is most fascinating that most research which has covered these grounds has been conducted by historians of the early modern period collectively or individually while the time after 1850 to 1920 is not analyzed in the same broad and related way.
This presentation will look at one particular aspect of the late nineteenth century Asian maritime world, namely the treaty port system and the operations of what then were named treaties of Amity and Commerce and today are more often remembered as so-called unequal treaties. While extraterritoriality and the consular courts have for ages been lambasted as symbols of Western imperialism and encroachments on national sovereignties, it is surprising how little historians know about how they actually functioned in reality. Based on very preliminary research on court records, the presentation revisits some old questions as how “unfair” these institutions were according to what criteria and what do they tell us about the transcultural society in treaty port Yokohama. Last but not least, there will be tales of the Ainu skull trade, shipwrecking naval vessels, raping Japanese girls, murdering your mate, arson and theft, frequent bankruptcies and a long squabble over medical malpractice and not paying the bills for pulling teeth.
The presentation will be in English, the question and answer session could be in English and Japanese.
Harald Fuess is Visiting Professor at the Institute of Social Science, Tokyo University, and Professor in the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe” at Heidelberg University