Session Abstract: Particularly after its military victory over Russia in 1905, Japan became a site for conversations about race, empire, religion, modernity, and civilization. Although the literature on Japanese pan-Asianism has largely focused on its connections with the Japanese Empire, our panel will focus on discussions surrounding religion and modernity. In doing so, our papers will not only decenter Japan from the history of pan-Asianism, they will also shine light on the fact that pan-Asianism should not be reduced to its geopolitical dimensions.
Broadly speaking, ideas about modernity and religion were being formulated in the context of discourses on the universality of civilization. In the civilizational discourse from the beginning of the nineteenth century, “civilization” was inextricably linked with the idea of progress and modernity. Significantly, it was also linked, implicitly and/or explicitly, to the concept of race, religion, and the nation. Non-European intellectuals around the world were “universalizing” European enlightenment ideals and concepts, by translating, modifying, and adapting these ideas into their own context. Although European ideas, concepts, and scholarship were ever-present in these discussions, Asian intellectuals were also drawing on networks and epistemologies that preceded European colonial domination in their respective regions.
Collectively, the papers in this panel show that Japanese pan-Asianism as an imagined solidarity of non-Western civilization is not unique in Asia; there were in fact multiple pan-Asianist imaginations at play, often building upon (imagined) religious histories and lineages.
Paper Presenter: Samee Siddiqui – University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Paper Presenter: Shatrunjay Mall – University of Wisconsin-Madison
Paper Presenter: Daigengna Duoer – University of California, Santa Barbara