skip to content

Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

FAMES Room 8/9
Event date: 
Monday, 19 February, 2024 - 17:00

The Rise of the Esperanto Movement in China and Japan: A Comparison

Esperanto was created in the late 1880s by the Polish ophthalmologist Ludwik Zamenhof (1859-1917) as an international auxiliary language to facilitate communications between different peoples and ethnic groups in Europe. It initially sought to serve as an agent for peace in an increasingly strife-ridden continent and world, and it was never meant to replace any existing natural language. It caught on among Chinese and Japanese in the middle of the first decade of the twentieth century among various groups but in very different ways. This talk will trace the Chinese and Japanese figures who supported it and why; it will look at the politics behind that support and how in both cases it differed from the same movement in Europe. While concentrating on the first few decades of the East Asian movement, it will also look briefly at its long-term fate in both countries.

Joshua Fogel  was born in Brooklyn, NY, and grew up in northern California. After completing his undergraduate education at the University of Chicago, he moved to NYC to do his graduate work in Chinese history under Wm. T. de Bary (PhD, 1980) at Columbia University. He taught at Harvard (1981-88) and University of California, Santa Barbara (1989-2005) before moving to York University in Toronto. His work focuses on the intellectual and cultural history of China and Japan as they interact with one another (rather than in isolation). He has (to date) published 73 books (monographs, edited volumes, translated volumes), including: Politics and Sinology: The Case of Naito Konan (Harvard, 1984); Nakae Ushikichi in China: The Mourning of Spirit (Harvard, 1989); Ai Ssu-ch'i's Contribution to the Popularization of Chinese Marxism (Harvard, 1987); The Literature of Travel in the Japanese Rediscovery of China, 1862-1945 (Stanford, 1996); Japanese Historiography and the Gold Seal of 57 C.E. (Brill, 2013); Maiden Voyage: The Senzaimaru and the Creation of Modern Sino-Japanese Relations (Univ of California, 2014).