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The Battle of Honnōji (1869) - Courtesy of Historiographical Institute, University of Tokyo.

Heidelberg History Conference on

"Global History and the Meiji Restoration"


July 3 - 5, 2015


Voßstraße 2, Bld. 4400, Karl Jaspers Centre
 69115 Heidelberg


Organization: Harald Fuess - HCTS Professorship Cultural Economic History

This conference is part of a multiyear project with three international conferences to facilitate international and interdisciplinary discussions in advance of the 150-year commemoration of Japan’s Meiji Restoration. For further information, please refer to the projects homepage:


Schedule of Heidelberg History Conference 3-5 July 2015 (Version as of 1 June 2015)

DAY ZERO (2 July) Thursday: Heidelberg Center for Transcultural Studies Jour Fix Event

Arrival of conference participants during the day. Optional participation at the jour fix of the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context”/Heidelberg Center for Transcultural Studies.

Presentation from 16:15 to 17:45

Jour Fix Keynote Speaker: Daniel Botsman, Yale, “From ‘Sacred Cow’ to ‘Kobe beef’: A Bovine Perspective on Japan’s Modern Revolution”

“Kobe beef” is today a globally recognized synonym for the joys of culinary extravagance.  But how was it that a port town in Japan, a country in which there were centuries old taboos against killing cattle, came to have such a strong association with high quality beef?  This presentation will provide answers to this question by delving into the history of animals, agriculture, food, discrimination and cross-cultural contact in the Japanese archipelago, focusing particularly on the great social transformations of the nineteenth century.
(image: courtesy of Yale University)

DAY ONE (3 July) Friday: Re-Interpreting History?

Welcome and Introduction (9:00-9:30)

-  Nikolas Jaspert, Heidelberg, Greetings from the Speaker of the History Department

-  Harald Fuess, Heidelberg, “Why Global History and the Meiji Restoration?”


Session 1 (9:30-12:00)   Japanese History and the Meiji Restoration in a Global Context

Chair/Commentator: Inken Prohl, Heidelberg & Kate Nakai, Sophia

1.     Mark Ravina, Emory,
       “Meiji Restoration Imagined as Revival of the Past”

2.     Hiroshi Mitani, Tokyo University,
        “Heuristic Benefits of the Meiji Revolution”

3.     David Mervart, Madrid Autonoma,
        “Meiji: an Overdue Chinese Revolution?”

4.     Hoi- Eun Kim, Texas A&M,
        “Between Ishin and Yushin:
         Meiji Restoration and its Place in Modern Korean History”

 - Lunch Buffet 12:00-13:00 -  Karl Jaspers Center Building 

Session 2 (13:00-15:00) International Perspectives on Meiji Japan

Chair/Commentator: Roland Wenzlhuemer, Heidelberg & Kiri Paramore, Leiden

5.     Martin Dusinberre, Zürich,
        “Steering Japan anew:
        Ships, the state, and the Meiji revolution across the world”

6.     Katsuji Nara, Ritsumeikan,
        “The Worldview of Koga Tōan and his disciples in the Shōheiko”

7.     Tōru Takenaka, Osaka University,
        “Bankokushi: An attempt for history of the world in the early Meiji period”

 - Break (15:00-15:30) -

Session 3 (15:30-17:30) The Emperor and the Meiji Restoration

Chair/Commentator: Judit Árokay, Heidelberg, and Richard Samuels, MIT

8.     John Breen, Kyoto Nichibunken,
        “Ornamental diplomacy:
         Emperor Meiji and the monarchs of the modern world”

9.     Hiroshi Takagi, Kyoto University,
       “International relevance of the cultural aspects of the Meiji Restoration
        and the emperor system”

10.   Daniel Botsman, Yale,
        “Recast(e)ing the Restoration: Untouchability, the Emperor
         and the Question of Freedom in the Modern World”


- Walk to Heidelberg University Square - 17:30-18:00
Alte Aula, Heidelberg University, Universitätsplatz 1

Presentation from 18:00-19:00

Evening Keynote Speaker: Madeleine Herren-Oesch, Basel,
“Under the Magnifying Glass of Global History: the case of Swiss-Japanese Diplomacy”

History Departments in many European Universities offer with increasing success Master degrees in Global History with the aim to overstep the limits set by the master narrative of the nation state. This approach offers access to new topics, data and materials, while also influencing and transforming our understanding of diplomatic history. The lecture investigates the case of Swiss-Japanese diplomatic relations. Official contacts between Japan and Switzerland started in the early 1860s and introduced a new, multilayered and multifunctional system of diplomacy that is interpreted as the beginning of a new power setting.  For the Swiss side, the diplomatic relations to Japan granted access to the Asian market beyond colonial and imperial claims and without establishing a formal diplomatic apparatus. The economically successful establishment and maintenance of trade relations mirrors the cultivation of new forms of diplomatic relations.  In a paradigmatic way, the spatial narrative of expanding national territorial power confronts the power to connect, to translate, to utilize and to monopolize flows of information. Global history therefore offers a new reading on the formations of territoriality and connectivity, considering and analyzing multilayered semi-official agencies beyond the small circle of the so-called European Concert.

- Reception, Bel Etage -

DAY TWO (4 July) Saturday: Meiji Restoration and foreign influences in economy and politics

Session 4 (9:30-12:00)   Global Economic History

Chair/Commentator: Regine Mathias, Bochum, and Masayuki Tanimoto, Tokyo

11.     Mark Metzler, University Texas at Austin,
        “Japan and the Global Economic–Ecological Conjuncture:
        A New View of the Crises of 1866–67”

12.     Robert Hellyer, Wake Forest,
        “Choosing Sides or Focused on the Bottom Line?
        Western Merchants and the Trajectory of the Meiji Restoration”

13.     Simon Partner, Duke,
        “Yokohama as a new space of global exchange in the 1860s”

14.     Ken'ichirō Aratake, Tohoku University,
        “Meiji Restoration and the Night Soil Problem”

- Lunch Buffet (12:00-13:00) - Karl Jaspers Center Building

Session 5 (13:00-15:00) Diplomacy and Power

Chair/Commentator: Naoko Shimazu, Birkbeck, and Kaoru Iokibe, Tokyo

15.     Mayuko Sano, Kyoto Nichibunken,
        “Diplomatic Ceremonial of the Tokugawa Shōgunate”

16.     Jong Chol An, Tübingen,
        “Ending the Sino-Centered World Order?
        Chosŏn Korea, Tsushima and International Law in the Early Meiji Period”

17.     Marina Kovalchuk, FEFU Vladivostok,
        “Imаge of Russian Empire in Japan and its transformation
        before and after the Meiji Restoration”

- Break (15:00-15:30) -

Session 6 (15:30-17:30) Foreign Influences “Knowledge shall be sought throughout the world”

Chair/Commentator: Andrea Germer, Kyushu/Heidelberg and Chris Gerteis, SOAS

18.     Sven Saaler, Sophia,
        “Memories of Meiji: Public Statuary in Modern Japan”

19.     Harald Fuess, Heidelberg,
        “The Global Weapons Trade and the Meiji Restoration”

20.   Bernard Thomann, INALCO,
        “The global circulation of knowledge and the birth
        of the social question during the Meiji era”

Evening Keynote Speaker (18:00-19:00):
Masashi Haneda, Tokyo University,
“Global History and a New World History in Japan”,
Room 212, Karl Jaspers Center Building

Like other countries, a trend of so called “global history” is not able to be ignored in Japanese academia nowadays. While there are historians who tend to employ the Japanized form of global history, “gurobaru hisutorii” to explain their manner of research, I use the term a “new world history (atarashii sekaishi in Japanese)” to explain my current initiative. But, the target of these two groups is almost the same: review and renovation of the conventional Japanese interpretation of history of the world.

In this talk, I will overview the history of Japanese historiography on world history at first. It will explain why I prefer to use the term a “new world history”. Then, I will discuss the advantage and disadvantage of current interpretation of world history in Japan by comparing it with that in the West. Finally, I would like to introduce my efforts to challenge and overcome the disadvantage of Japanese world history and to create a new understanding of world history for earthmen and women.

- Dinner after 19:30 “Wirtshaus Zum Seppl” for invited conference speakers, chairs and commentators -

DAY THREE (5 July) Sunday: The Meiji Restoration as Edo-Meiji Transition in Culture and Society

Session 7 (9:30-12:00)   “Breaking with Evil Customs of the Past”

Chair/Commentator: Melanie Trede, Heidelberg and Jan Schmidt, Bochum

21.    Hans Martin Krämer, Heidelberg,
        “The Spiritual Side of the Restoration: Revisiting the ‘Unity of Rite and Rule’         (saisei itchi)”

22.   Rongguang Huang, CAS Beijing,
        “The Export Ceramics Industry in Guangxu China and Meiji Japan”

23.   Rotem Kowner, Haifa,
        “The Japanese Discovery of Race following the Meiji Transition”

24.   Barak Kushner, Cambridge,
        “The Regulation of Fun in Meiji Japan”

- Lunch Buffet (12:00-13:00) - Karl Jaspers Center Building

Session 8 (13:00-15:30) The Meiji Restoration: the Regional and the National

Chair/Commentator: Till Knaudt, Heidelberg, and Sōchi Naraoka, Kyoto University

25.   Rosa Caroli, Venice,
        “Inventing identities in the Japanese nation-state and within its borders: 
        echoes of the Meiji Restoration in Okinawa”

26.   Steve Ivings, Heidelberg,
        “Settling the frontier and defending the north:
        reassessing the role of the tondenhei in Hokkaido’s colonial development”

27.   Fabian Drixler, Yale
        “Alternative Japanese Nations in the Meiji Restoration:
        The Lost History of Azuma”

- Break (15:00-15:30) -

Session 9 (15:30-18:00) The Meiji Restoration: The Grand Wrap-Up Session

Chair/Commentator: Michael Lucken/INALCO and Steven Ericson, Dartmouth

28.   Kären Wigen, Stanford,
        “Edo perspectives on the Meiji Restoration”

29.   Angus Lockyer, SOAS,
        “Meiji in the World”

30.   Albert Craig, Harvard,
        “Revisiting the Meiji Restoration fifty years after Chōshū”

The Global History and the Meiji Restoration Conference is funded by



To be published