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Origins of Empires and their Afterlives in East and South Asia

last modified Jun 01, 2017 04:56 PM

Workshop with Aaron Peters and Barak Kushner on the Origins of Empires and their Afterlives in East and South Asia

Aaron Peters poster 2017-05-04On Thursday, 4th May, 2017 Aaron Peters, PhD student at the University of Toronto presented his doctoral research concerning Japan and Indian relations in the first half of the twentieth century. Marshalling archival research from across the Commonwealth and Japan, Peters explored the role of Indian nationalists in the activities of Japanese pan-Asianists, deepening our understanding of ambivalent historical figures such as Sudhas Chandra Bose and the Indian National Army. Crossing the political divide of 1945, Peters thoughtfully highlighted the encounters of Indian soldiers in the BCOF (British Commonwealth Occupation Force) with Japanese civilians and Korean refugees in occupied Japan, particularly western Honshū and Shikoku. Bringing together the strands of the prewar and postwar eras, Peters posed important questions of how the politics of memory and comparison were mobilized by India and Japan to disentangle themselves from an imperial encounter with the Western powers.

Next Dr Barak Kushner, Reader in Japanese History, University of Cambridge presented his next research project, “The Spectacle of Justice in East Asia and the Theater of Law: 1945-2015.” Bringing together the strands of his five-year ERC research project and the themes of his most recent monograph “Men to Devils, Devils to Men: Japanese War Crimes and Chinese Justice” (Winner of the American Historical Association’s 2016 John K. Fairbank Prize), Kushner explored how the complex web of national and international trials in the aftermath of World War II in Asia sowed the seeds for the birth of postwar Asia. Excavating the trials, memorials, archives, and prisons that served as the symbolic stage for the dissolution of the Japanese Imperial state, Kushner weaves together a chronicle of the history of East Asia after 1945 with the pursuit of “competitive justice.” In doing so, he resurrects the forgotten Chinese jurists and legal minds role in the Tokyo Trials to bring to light how the East Asian process of adjudicating Japanese war crimes intersected fatefully with the quest for domestic legitimacy and the spread of global jurisprudence beyond Europe.

Aaron Peters presenting

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