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Doctoral Project

Asia in the League of Cultures: Japan, China, and the International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation, 1919-1939
Takashi Saikawa (M.A.)

The purpose of this project is to examine the globalised and transcultural flow of ideas related to international cultural exchange between Europe and Asia during the interwar period. The main focus of this project is on the International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation (ICIC), the predecessor of UNESCO, which was established in 1922 as a technical organisation of the League of Nations aiming to facilitate international understandings.
This project, in particular, examines the transformation of discourse on intellectual cooperation in the ICIC. It will show empirically, that the fundamental principles of the ICIC, initially based on the universality of Western civilisation, underwent a gradual transformation into cultural relativism based on the particularity of national cultures. Also, it will underline the role of Japan and China in this paradigm shift, both of which revolted against the eurocentric view of the ICIC through connecting the idea of civilisation with nationalism. Thus, it will be argued that the idea of international cultural exchange itself can be regarded as a globalized and transcultural product, which emerged from the web of interactions between the ICIC on the one hand, and Japan and China on the other, as well as between Europe and Asia.