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Workshop: "From War to Cold War: The Asian World Order in the Middle of the Twentieth-Century"

06. Dez 2019 11:00 Uhr bis 18:00 Uhr
Veranstalter: Professorship of Cultural Economic History
Karl Jaspers Centre, Room 212

Workshop Schedule:

Welcome: Prof. Harald Fuess (Heidelberg University)

11:00-13:00 | Session One. Chair: Dr. Takuma Melber

Aaron Moore (Edinburgh University): "Fantastic Empire: Depictions of Future Warfare in Early Twentieth Century Japanese Magazines"

Hiroaki Adachi (Tohoku University): "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere in the 1940s"

13:00-14:00 | Lunch

14:00-16:00 | Session Two. Chair: Dr. Takahiro Yamamoto

Moritz von Brescius (Bern University): "Anticipations and Disruptions of the ‘Synthetic Age’: Rubber, Science and Resources, c.1839–1945"

Till Bärnighausen (Heidelberg University): "Medical Experimentations on Humans by the Japanese Army for Biological Warfare in China, 1932-1945"

16:00-16:30 | Break

16:30-18:30 | Session Three. Chair: Prof. Dr. Hans Martin Krämer

Daniel Hedinger (Munich University): "The End of the Axis Empires and Decolonization"

Shigeru Akita (Osaka University): "From Empires to Development Aid—A Global Historical Perspective on the Asian International Economic Order in the 1950s and 1960s"


Aaron Moore: "Fantastic Empire: Depictions of Future Warfare in Early Twentieth Century Japanese Magazines"

Speculative fiction existed in Japan since the early years after the Meiji Restoration (1868), but primarily as translations of Western canonical works. Between 1890 and 1910, new stories were written by Japanese authors, which quickly gained an enthusiastic audience. After WWI, however, popular scientific journals, catering to educated middle class readers and non-specialists, began publishing speculative science writing and science fantasy. Researchers, engineers, and technical specialists also were involved, both in the production and critique of these new visions of Japan's future. In this talk, Moore explores the intersection between fiction writing, imperial politics, and the increasing specialisation and professionalisation of scientific communities in Japan. Using scientific studies to structure their imagination of possible futures, Japanese writers asked: what will space travel be like? How will artificial humans change espionage? Will super-weapons change the global political order? And what role will the Empire of Japan play in this new world? The first half of the twentieth century was a perilous one, characterised by revolutions, imperialism, and mass war mobilisation, and consequently Japanese visions of the future were preoccupied with the use of science to secure national sovereignty. Nevertheless, Japanese writers carefully considered social and cultural changes that were concomitant with technological innovation, to confront the ineluctable 'World of Tomorrow'."

Hiroaki Adachi: "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere in 1940s: Japanese attempt to construct a new regional order"

In the 1940s, Japanese leaders tried to build an economic bloc by forming an exclusive regional zone with Japan as a leader in Asia. However, it is not the case that the Japanese government immediately set out to make a comprehensive economic bloc in the mid-1930s. Japan was a small country with few natural resources and its heavy industry and chemical production numbers were not enough to carry out the Sino-Japanese War. On the other hand, there were many bureaucrats and business leaders in Japan who wanted to build a regional order in Asia as a major power. The turning point was the start of World War II. In the spring of 1940 Germany went on the offensive in Europe, occupying the Netherlands and defeating and installing a puppet government in France. For this reason, the political position of the Southeast Asian colonies of the Netherlands and France became unstable, and Japanese leaders saw an opportunity to move in. To this end, the Japanese government altered its foreign policy, partnered with Germany and Italy, and began making plans to build an economic bloc in Asia. Since the move to create the regional sphere was made in an opportunistic manner, Japan lacked sufficient economic power and concept to build it. Because of this situation, after the outbreak of the Asia-Pacific War and occupying Southeast Asia, Japan adopted two methods. One was the unequal hierarchical politic order based on Japan's unique ideas. Another was the economic policy divided into two stages. The first focused on acquiring raw material resources as an urgent policy necessary for the immediate war effort. The second measure was to seek long-term policies aiming at creating self-sufficient economic zone. In this presentation, I will explain these policies in detail and show how these policies had changed during the war. That reveals the process by which the construction of a new regional order in Japan fails.

Moritz von Brescius: "Anticipations and Disruptions of the ‘Synthetic Age’: Rubber, Science and Resources, c.1839–1945"

This project examines the many unforeseen and profound consequences of the ‘synthetic revolution’ for colonial plantation economies and European resource regimes in the period c.1839–1945, including the disruption of commodity chains, the disintegration of markets and the introduction of coercive systems of labour, both in colonial peripheries and imperial metropoles. It is situated between the histories of science, resources and colonialism. It concentrates on developments in the knowledge of industrial chemistry in selected European countries and the US. The project builds on existing works about colonial commodity frontiers and natural resource extraction by states and private companies by exploring the development of a second, equally powerful commodity frontier that emerged in the period in Europe and North America: that of laboratories and factories. Over the course of roughly a hundred years, new types of industrial sites came into being that produced a growing number of artificial substitutes for diverse tropical products – some of which rivalled nature’s work. These, in turn, profoundly altered social, industrial and economic patterns and resource uses in the modern age. This project takes as its starting point the interconnected histories of natural and synthetic rubber to explore geographically diffuse and socially transformative processes in the dawning of the ‘synthetic age’. In exploring the emergence of parallel and competing resource cycles for rubber – one based on tropical extraction, the other on lab-based production – the project pays particular attention to the simultaneously utopian and dystopian visions that these generated as well as the profound disruptions and changes in resource regimes that industrial chemistry brought about.

Daniel Hedinger: "The End of the Axis Empires and Decolonization"

During the 1930s, Japan, Germany and Italy shared the dream of a new world order, which was first and foremost an imperial one. They shared the idea of reinventing imperialism and bringing it nearer to home so that the nation could be reborn and thereby survive a worldwide struggle. This occurred against the backdrop of what they called proletarian imperialism, which was often understood as a kind of post-colonial imperialism. In this sense, what could be called an “imperial nexus” not only brought the members of the Axis together, but also strengthened the alliance during the years of the Second World War. However, fascist imperialism was short-lived. On the sudden dissolution of their empires at the end of the war, an almost-as-fast disappearance of imperial memory followed in Japan, Germany and Italy. I will argue that the disappearance of the Imperial Axis, which in essence brought about a nationalisation of memory and history, pertains equally to all three countries. In many ways, this was more a parallel history than a shared one. Nonetheless, two processes were crucial in all three cases: Firstly, after the post-war tribunals in Nuremberg and Tokyo (and the lack of an Italian equivalent), the idea of the Axis as a powerful global alliance disappeared. Secondly—and this was not limited to the former Axis members but also applies to other European powers, such as Great Britain and France—the imperial dimension of the Second World War disappeared as well. Consequently, historians largely lost sight of the colonial, imperial and global context of both the Axis alliance and the Second World War. This contribution will focus on those processes that let the imperial Axis disappear. In this process, the Axis had an—albeit somewhat obscure—afterlife. This then raises a number of questions: in what sense can the history of imperial amnesia be described as a shared one, and what we would gain by doing so? Can there be a shared history of forgetting?  And are there any legacies of Axis imperialism?

Shigeru Akita: "From Empires to Development Aid—A Global Historical Perspective on the Asian International Economic Order in the 1950s and 1960s"

This paper presents an Asian perspective on post-colonial globalization in the 1950s and 1960s in the context of global history. Usually the period of the 1950s and 1960s is interpreted and symbolized by two subjects---the formation and development of the Cold War regime (East-West divide) and the progress of decolonization in Asia and Africa (South-North divide). However, from Asian perspectives, economic development of newly independent countries, led by so-called “developmentalism”, was more important than cold war and decolonization. This paper presents historical origins of industrialization in South Asia (India) and East Asia from comparative and relational perspectives. The industrialised nations of Britain began to transfer labour-intensive textile industries to Asian countries, especially in East Asia, and the European metropoles concentrated instead on the economic activities of the financial and service sectors. This shift of British economic interests permitted the industrialisation of Asia, and it was one of the prominent features of the international order of Asia in the years leading up to the Asia–Pacific War. Notwithstanding the vast turmoil of World War II in Asia and the Pacific, as well as ‘political decolonisation’ and the spread of the Cold War in post-war southern and eastern Asia, elements of international order may well have survived into the 1950s, helping to explain the pattern of rapid economic growth in East and Southeast Asia particularly. The sterling area and Commonwealth connection were emblematic of the British presence in Asia. During the war, Britain, by utilising its colonial or historical relationships, had also been able to accumulate a high level of sterling balances, which it owed to Commonwealth countries and colonies. In 1945, at the end of World War II, Britain’s sterling balances swelled to around 3.6 billion pounds, of which 37.9 % was held by British India (later independent India, Pakistan, and Ceylon). As a consequence of World War II, the financial (debt obligation) relationship between Great Britain and British India paradoxically reversed, and this drastic change in financial relations accelerated the political process of decolonisation (transfer of power). Given these imperial and global financial contexts, in order to clearly understand the post-war international economic order, we must reconsider the historical significance of the changing position of the sterling balances and the sterling area as well. The origin of the Colombo Plan was thus closely bound up with the gradual release of sterling balances of Asian countries and the recovery of the status of sterling as a world currency at a time of recurring payment crises. Independent India under J. Nehru administration played important roles in the Commonwealth as well as in the Colombo Plan in the 1950s and early 1960s. Indian development policies were closely linked with her holdings of the sterling balances and economic aids from various sources, including the World Bank.  On the other hand, East Asian economic development through industrialization was related to the Cold War regime and US economic aid.  These developing countries adopted developmental policies by their own initiatives and carried out “developmentalism”. By using multi-archival documents, this paper reconsiders international economic order of Asia in the 1950s-1960s in the context of global history.


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