Spring 2003
Laura Neitzel
Brookdale Community College
First offered as an ExEAS course at Columbia University in Spring 2003

This course situates the long history of Japan and Asia in a world historical context — the context in which East Asian civilization developed. We trace the connections between global and local developments and examine the multiple interactions between Japan, East Asia, and the world. Sweeping themes such as industrialization and capitalism, the formation of nation-state and empire, changing social organization, and cultural interchange are treated through concrete topics with historical specificity and as many primary sources as possible. These topics range from pirates and missionaries to textile workers and coal miners, from trains and telegraphs to televisions and transistors, from changing conceptions of time to transnational migration, and from the economics of opium to the cult of anime. In each instance, we stress connections, commonalities, and comparisons within East Asia and between Japan and the world. The goal is to explore patterns of world history as they played out on the ground in Japan and Asia.

Class format and requirements:

This class will be run as a seminar. This means that the success of the course is wholly dependent on your active participation. Commitment to reading and thinking carefully about the texts, and willingness to share ideas in class are the most important requirements for the course. The themes of the class are organized in a rough chronology but a comprehensive narrative of Japanese history will not be provided. On weeks with particularly heavy reading assignments we will divide the readings among class members. Films will be shown outside of normal class time and will also be made available for you to view at your convenience. Emphasis will be placed on careful readings of primary sources alongside secondary interpretations. Grades will be determined as follows. Percentages are approximate:

  • Attendance and participation: 30% of grade
  • One in-class presentation: 15%
  • Mid-term essays: 20%
  • Final research paper (8-10 pages) 35%

(10% of the grade for the research paper will go to the thesis statement and project outline due April 7)

Presentations: In-class presentations should not exceed ten minutes. Presenters should react to the main problems and arguments presented in the readings. They should finish with three or four questions to help kick-off our discussion.

Midterm essays: Questions based on the course materials and class discussions will be distributed March 3. Essays are due March 12. Students will present their papers briefly in class that day.

Final research paper: Research papers should further develop one of the themes or sub-themes of the course. Mandatory meetings with the instructor to discuss projects will be held the week of March 31. Paper outlines and thesis statements will be due April 7.

Books and Course Reader: Most of the readings for the class are contained in the course reader which is available to purchase at CopyQuick, 1211 Amsterdam Avenue between 119 th and 120 th Streets (212-222-2070). The following books are also available at Labyrinth Books:

Pomeranz, Kenneth, and Steven Topik. The World That Trade Created: Society,

Culture, and the World Economy 1400 to the Present. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 1999.

Tanizaki Jun’ichirô. Naomi: A Novel. New York: Vintage International, 2001.

The course reader will be placed on reserve in Starr East Asian Library.

The Course:

WEEK ONE: Introductions

January 22: Getting started. The course, introductions, logistics.

WEEK TWO: Bringing the World Back In

January 27: Japan in world history: early worlds from the Mediterranean to the Eastern Sea. Connections: people, things, ideas, technologies, world views.

January 29: Japan and the Silk Road


Hayashi Ryôichi. The Silk Road and the Shôsô-in. Vol. 6 of Heibonsha

Survey of Japanese Art. New York: Weatherhill, 1975.

WEEK THREE: Pirates and Missionaries

February 3: Trade and Commerce Before the Nation-State


Images of wakô from Daiminkoku to wakô: kaigai shiten nihon no

rekishi 7 edited by Nihon ato sentâ.

Linton, Derek S. “Asia and the West in the New World Economy—The

Limited Thalassocracies: The Portuguese and the Dutch in Asia, 1498-1700.” In Asia in Western and World History: A Guide for Teaching, edited by Ainslie T. Embree and Carol Gluck. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 1997. Pages 63-82.

Pérotin-Dumon, Anne. “The Pirate and the Emperor: Power and Law on

the Seas 1450-1850.” In The Political Economy of Merchant Empires, edited by James D. Tracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991. Pages 196-227.

Pomeranz and Topik, xiii-xvii; 3-43; 147-156.

February 5: Japan and Asian Maritime Trade in the 15 th and 16 th Centuries


Nampo Bunshi, “The Introduction of Firearms” c. 1600. In Sources of

Japanese Tradition. Pages 308-312.

Extracts from letter written by Francis Xavier. 1549. In The Christian

Century in Japan, 1549-1650, by C.R. Boxer. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1951. Pages 401-405.

Depictions of Dutch and “Nambanjin” in Japanese prints in Yoshitomo

Okamoto, The Namban Art of Japan, The Heibonsha Survey of Japanese Art, Volume 19.

Massarella, Derek. “First Encounters with Japan.” Chap. 1 in A World

Elsewhere: Europe’s Encounter with Japan in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990. Pages 6-48.

Brown, Delmer M.“The Impact of Firearms on Japanese Warfare, 1543-

98.” The Far Eastern Quarterly 7, no. 3 (1948): 236-253.

Sub-themes and project ideas: piracy in Asia, firearms and the transformation of warfare, the technology of gun production, silver, missionaries, Xavier in Japan.

WEEK FOUR: Trade and Diplomacy

February 10: Trade and Diplomacy and the Making of the Tokugawa Order


Toby, Ronald. “Introduction” and “The Looking Glass of Protocol.” In State and Diplomacy in Early Modern Japan: Asia in the Development of the Tokugawa Bakufu. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984. Pages 3-22; 168-230.

February 12: The VOC and Tokugawa Japan


Kaempfer, Engelbert. Kaempfer’s Japan: Tokugawa Culture Observed.

Pages 187-235; 398-416; notes.

Depictions of Korean embassies in Japanese prints in Chôsenjin

raichô zu. Some also reproduced in Ronald Toby, “Carnival of Aliens: Korean Embassies in Edo-Period Art and Popular Culture,” Monumenta Nipponica, vol. 41, no. 4, 1986, 419, 420, 427.

Screech, Timon. “Trade and Culture in the Eighteenth Century.” In The

Western Scientific Gaze and Popular Imagery in Later Edo Japan: The Lens within the Heart. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996. Pages 6-30; notes.

Sub-themes and project ideas: Tokugawa currency problems, Nagasaki in early modern Japan, the VOC in Asia.


February 17: Drugs and the Making of the Modern World


Pomeranz and Topik, 77-108.

Courtwright, David. “The Big Three: Alcohol, Tobacco, Caffeine” and

“The Little Three: Opium, Cannabis, Coco.” In Forces of Habit: Drugs and the Making of the Modern World. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001. Pages 9-30, 31-52, notes.

February 19: Opium and the Making of Modern Asia


“Opium and the Exotic East,” “Missionaries and Opium,” and “The Chen Family Opium Den.” In Modern China and Opium: A Reader, edited by Alan Baumler. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2001. Pages 28-34, 35-42, 99-107.

Trocki, Carl A. “The Dream of Empire” and “In Compassion to

Mankind.” In Opium, Empire and the Global Political Economy: A Study of the Asian Opium Trade, 1750-1950. London: Routledge, 1999. Pages 1-12, 58-87.

Wakabayashi, Bob Tadashi. “From Peril to Profit: Opium in Late-Edo to

Meiji Eyes.” In Opium Regimes: China, Britain, and Japan, 1839-1952, edited by Timothy Brook and Bob Tadashi Wakabayashi. Pages 55-75.

Sub-themes and project ideas: opium, sugar, tobacco, coffee in Japan, Japanese tea in the world, unequal treaties.


February 24: Making Time


Nowotny, Helga. “The Illusion of Simultaneity.” In Time: The Modern

and Postmodern Experience, translated by Neville Plaice. Cambridge, M.A.: Blackwell Publishers, 1994.

Zerubabel, Eviatar. “The Standardization of Time.” The American Journal

of Sociology 88 (July, 1982): 1-23.

Anderson, Benedict. “Cultural Roots.” In Imagined Communities:

Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso, 1991. Pages 9-36.

February 26: Modern Time(s) in Japan


Fukuzawa Yukichi. “Western Civilization as Our Goal.” In An

Outline of a Theory of Civilization. 1874. Pages 13-33.

Basil Hall Chamberlain. “Time.” In Japanese Things Being

Notes on Various Subjects Connected with Japan. 1904. Pages 474-479.

Kashiwabara Takaaki. “On Sunday.” In Meiroku Zasshi:

Journal of the Japanese Enlightenment. 1875. Pages 406-407.

Fujitani, Takashi. “Fabricating Imperial Ceremonies.” In Splendid

Monarchy: Power and Pageantry in Modern Japan. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996. Pages 105-154.

Sub-themes and project ideas: calendars and time-keeping in pre- and post-Meiji Japan, clocks, national holidays, nengo (periodization by emperor reign), the history of time zones.

WEEK SEVEN : Trains and Telegraphs

March 3: Machines of Modernity


Tanizaki Jun’ichirô. “Terror.” In Seven Japanese Tales. 1913. Pages 85-94.

Schivelbusch, Wolfgang. The Railway Journey: The Industrialization of

Time and Space in the Nineteenth Century. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996. Pages 1-50 (chapters 1-3).

Pomeranz and Topik, 44-76.

Mid-term essay questions will be distributed in class.

March 5: Forging Nation and Empire


Representations of trains and technology in woodblock prints in Julia

Meech-Pekarik, The World of the Meiji Print.

Ericson, Steven J. “Part One: The Engine of Change: Railroads and Meiji

Japan.” In The Sound of the Whistle: Railroads and the State in Meiji Japan. Cambridge: Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard University, 1996. Pages 25-94, notes.

Robinson, Ronald E. “Introduction: Railway Imperialism” and Clarence

B. Davis, “Railway Imperialism in China.” In Railway Imperialism, edited by Clarence B. Davis and Kenneth E. Wilburn, Jr. New York: Greenwood Press, 1991. Pages 1-6, 155-173.

Sub-themes and project ideas: trains, telegraphs, newspapers, the South Manchuria Railway Company, steam technology.

WEEK EIGHT: Factories

March 10: The Industrial Revolution in Japan


Interview with Tanno Setsu about life as a miner’s child and labor organizing in 1920s. In Reflections on the Way to the Gallows: Rebel Women in Prewar Japan, edited and translated by Mikiso Hane. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998. Pages 175-203.

Pomeranz and Topik, 214-239.

Hane, Mikiso. “The Textile Workers” and “The Coal Miners.” In

Peasants, Rebels, and Outcasts: The Underside of Modern Japan. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003. Pages 173-204, 214-239.

Dublin, Thomas. “Women, Work, and Protest in the Early Lowell Mills.”

In Class, Sex, and the Woman Worker, edited by Milton Cantor and Bruce Laurie. Westport, C.T.: Greenwood Press, 1977. Pages 46-63.

Sub-themes and project ideas: cotton in the world economy, changes in spinning and reeling technologies, protective legislation for women, debates over the workday, child labor laws.

March 12: Mid-term essays due. In-class presentations of essays.

WEEK NINE: Spring Break

WEEK TEN: Migrations

March 24: “Natives” and Nationals: Citizenship and Colonialism


Ikemiyagi Sekihô. 1922. “Officer Ukuma.” In Southern Exposure:

Modern Japanese Literature from Okinawa, edited by Michael Molasky and Steve Rabson. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2000. Pages 58-71.

Morris-Suzuki, Tessa. “Becoming Japanese: Imperial Expansion and

Identity Crises in the Early Twentieth Century.” In Japan’s Competing Modernities: Issues in Culture and Democracy, 1900-1930, edited by Sharon A. Minichiello. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1998. Pages 157-180.

Christy, Alan S. “The Making of Imperial Subjects in Okinawa.” In

Formations of Colonial Modernity in East Asia, edited by Tani E. Barlow. Durham: Duke University Press, 1997. Pages 141-169.

March 26: Modern Diaspora: Problems of place, class, nation.



Arakaki, Robert K. “Theorizing on the Okinawan Diaspora.” In Okinawan

Diaspora, edited by Ronald Y. Nakasone. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2002. Pages 26-43.


Lone, Stewart. “Leaving: Japan’s Entry into a World of Migration, 1885-

1905” and “Arriving: The Early Japanese in Brazil, 1908-1919.” In The Japanese Community in Brazil, 1908-1940: Between Samurai and Carnival. New York: Palgrave, 2001. Pages 11-56.


Weiner, Michael. Race and Migration in Imperial Japan. London:

Routledge, 1994. Pages 38-93.


Kaneshiro, Edith M. “‘The Other Japanese’: Okinawan Immigrants to the

Philippines, 1903-1941.” In Okinawan Diaspora, edited by Ronald Y. Nakasone. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2002. Pages 71-89.


Young, Louise. “Colonizing Manchuria: The Making of an Imperial

Myth.” In Mirror of Modernity: Invented Traditions of Modern Japan, edited by Stephen Viastos. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998. Pages 95-109.

Sub-themes and project ideas: Groups or individuals moving to and from Japan, and within the Japanese empire. The movement and displacement of people created by industrialization and colonization.

WEEK ELEVEN: Dance Halls, Cafés, and Modern Girls  

Mandatory meetings concerning research projects this week.

March 31: Girl in the City


Tanizaki Jun’ichirô. 1924. Naomi.

Selections on Americanism, mass consumption, fashion from The Weimar Republic Sourcebook, edited by Anton Kaes, Martin Jay, and Edward Dimendberg. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994. Pages 206-208; 393-400; 655-663.

Tipton, Elise K. “The Café: Contested Space of Modernity in Interwar

Japan.” In Being Modern in Japan: Culture and Society from the 1910s to the 1930s, edited by Elise K. Tipton and John Clark. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2000. Pages 199-136.


Silverberg, Miriam. “The Modern Girl as Militant.” In Recreating

Japanese Women, 1600-1945, edited by Gail Lee Bernstein. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991. Pages 239-266.


Harootunian, Harry D. “The Fantasy of Modern Life.” In Overcome by

Modernity: History, Culture, and Community in Interwar Japan. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000. Pages 3-33.




April 2: Discussion of readings and film.

Sub-themes and project ideas: Hollywood stars in Japan in the interwar, cafés, modernism in art, film, architecture, women’s and mass magazines, department stores, baseball.


April 7: Total War, Total Empire


Army pronouncement on “National Mobilization.” 1934. In Sources of

Japanese Tradition, edited by Wm. Theodore de Bary, vol. 2, ed. 2, forthcoming. Pages 1371-76.

Ministry of Education pronouncement on “Spiritual Mobilization.”

1941. In Sources of Japanese Tradition, edited by Wm. Theodore de Bary, vol. 2, ed. 2, forthcoming. Pages 1380-86.

Ryû Shintarô on “Economic Mobilization.” 1940. In Sources of

Japanese Tradition, edited by Wm. Theodore de Bary, vol. 2, ed. 2, forthcoming. Pages 1386-91.

Hobsbawm, Eric. “The Age of Total War.” In The Age of Extremes: A

History of the World, 1914-1991. New York: Vintage Books, 1996. Pages 21-53.

Young, Louise. “The Making of Total Empire” and “The Paradox of Total Empire.” In Japan’s Total Empire: Manchuria and the Culture of Wartime Imperialism. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998. Pages 3-52; 415-436.

April 9: Useful War, Useful Empire


Dower, John W. “The Useful War.” In Japan in War and Peace: Selected

Essays. New York: New Press, 1993. Pages 9-32.

Eckert, Carter J. “Total War, Industrialization, and Social Change in Late

Colonial Korea.” In The Japanese Wartime Empire, 1931-1945, edited by Peter Duus, Ramon H. Myers, and Mark R. Peattie. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996. Pages 3-39.

Sub-themes and project ideas: conversion of technology from war to peace, Japan and World War I, Japan during the Korean and Vietnam wars, Mitsubishi (or another company) before, during, and after WWII, the South Manchuria Railway.

WEEK THIRTEEN: Televisions and Transistors


April 14: De-colonization / Americanization / Cold War

Hobsbawm, Eric. “The Golden Years.” In The Age of Extremes: A History

of the World, 1914-1991. New York: Vintage Books, 1996. Pages 257-286.

Ross, Kristin. “Introduction” and “Hygiene and Modernization.” In Fast

Cars, Clean Bodies: Decolonization and the Reordering of French Culture. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1995. Pages 1-13; 71-122.

May, Elaine Tyler. “Introduction,” “Containment at Home: Cold War,

War Heart,” and “The Commodity Gap: Consumerism and the Modern Home.” In Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era. New York: Basic Books, 1988. Pages 3-15; 16-36; 162-182.


Willett, Ralph. “Coca-Cola and Cars: Icons of the American Dream” and

“The 1950s: Cold War/Hot Sun in Capri.” In The Americanization of Germany, 1945-1949. London: Routledge, 1989. Pages 99-131.

Outlines and thesis statements for research papers due.

April 16: Consuming Desires


Partner, Simon. “Creating the ‘Bright Life.’” In Assembled in Japan:

Electrical Goods and the Making of the Japanese Consumer. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999. Pages 137-192.

Sub-themes and project ideas: Coca-cola in Japan, Blondie comic strips in Japan, transistors, washing machines, refrigerators, televisions, modernizing the kitchen.

WEEK FOURTEEN: Tuna and Timber

April 21: Consumption and the environment


Cameron, Owen. “ Japan and South-East Asia’s Environment.” In

Environmental Change in South-East Asia: People, Politics and Sustainable Development, edited by Michael J.G. Parnell and Raymond L. Bryant. London: Routledge, 1996. Pages 67-93.

April 23: The Consequences of Sushi


Derek Hall, “Stagnation and Transformation in the Political Ecology of Japan-Asia Relations.” TO BE DISTRIBUTED IN CLASS.

Bestor, T.C. “Supply-side Sushi: Commodity, Market, and the Global City.” American Anthropologist 103 (2001): 76-95.

Kattoulas, Velisarios. “The Death of Sushi?” Far Eastern Economic Review, 15 August 2002.

Sub-themes and project ideas: tuna, shrimp, oil, timber, garbage


April 28: Comics in the classroom.

View Miyazaki Hayao's Spirited Away outside class and be ready to discuss.

Excerpts from the mangaCowboy Bebop.

April 30: Anime as a Global Commodity

Napier, Susan J. Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke: Experiencing

Contemporary Japanese Animation. New York: Palgrave, 2001. Pages 1-38; 239-256.

Iwabuchi, Koichi. “Introduction” and “Taking ‘Japanization’ Seriously:

Cultural Globalization Reconsidered.” In Recentering Globalization: Popular culture and Japanese Transnationalism. Durham: Duke University Press, 2002. Pages 1-50.

Sub-themes and project ideas:manga, anime, Pokemon, Game Boy

WEEK SIXTEEN: Research Presentations and Wrap-Up

May 5: Preliminary reports of research findings.

Final papers will be due by the scheduled exam date.