The Program of International Conference “Border History” in Sapporo, 2017

Between 3-5 August 2017, an International Conference called “Border History” was held at the Slavic-Eurasian Research Center at Hokkaido University. Prof. Stefan Berger (Ruhr-Universität Bochum) gave a fascinating keynote speech about research methodologies for “border studies”. He regarded borders as dynamic rather than static, suggesting various perspectives with which to approach border studies. According to his presentation, there are many ways to view “borders”: socially, economically, legally, historically and even in the lens of gender studies. These perspectives can help us not only examine borders as a source of human conflict, but give us something to think about for the future.
Another keynote speech from Prof. Akihiro Iwashita (Hokkaido University) was about his own practices involving cultural and political exchange between local governments situated at national borders. In his practice, he tried to overcome border conflicts between Russia, Taiwan, Korea and Japan through the exchanges between inhabitants living within those nation’s borders. To me, the issue was attractive and challenging. Both presentations raised several compelling questions, and the notion of “border studies” led to discussions involving various disciplines, research themes and topics.
An assortment of subjects—such as Ancient Rome, Medieval Germany, the Kuril Islands, modern China, modern Poland, the Ya-Lu River, the Amur River and Finland—were included in the conference’s many presentations. Several discussions involving gender, food, poetry and violence were also brought up throughout the duration of the conference. Although the commentators’ fields differed from those of the speakers, they still put forth meaningful points during the presentation.
“Border History” and its myriad of participants taught me several important things: (1) to embrace interdisciplinary study, (2) to make connections between theory construction and fieldwork and (3) to decentralise thought. If we recognise and practice each of these three points in the context of “border studies”, we can develop the field to an even greater extent than it is now.

Tatsushi Fujihara, Institute for Research in Humanities, Kyoto University)

The Program of International Conference “Border History” in Sapporo, 2017

The International Conference "Border History" was held at the Slavic-Eurasian Research Center of Hokkaido University from the 3rd to 4th of August. As the title suggests, the conference was focused on the "border" area, which was not determined by western modern "diplomacy", and which was under the influence of multiple forces or was not under any influence, and many cases of "border" area in various times and various regions were presented. I specialize in the history of Hong Kong, which was a British colony, from the end of the nineteenth century to the early twentieth centuries. It is important to think about how British people adapt the system to govern Chinese and how the Chinese lived in the British system, so the concept of "border history" was felt to give a big hint in the history of Hong Kong.
By the way, it is noteworthy that, among reports in various regions and times, four reports in this Conference were dealing with the Qing dynasty and surrounding areas in China. From the viewpoint of the Study of Oriental history and Chinese history, it is not too much to say that the framework of foreign relations between China and the surrounding area is one of the most controversial issues in Chinese history since John King Fairbank advocated the "China's World Order" framework. Especially, the Qing dynasty is an important dynasty from the point that it was established by the Manchurian family (that is, excluding the Han people) and that it was built up to the modern diplomatic system gradually after the Opium War. The history of foreign relations in China tended to be biased toward the elucidation of the institutional framework, but by touching the concept of "border history", it would be possible to capture more multilayered relationships with the surrounding areas of the modern (and its excessive period of) diplomatic system.
But, from this point of view, I felt a slight loneliness in the present conference that the Asian history and the Chinese history researcher had hardly participated. In the historical research, where it is considered important to analyze a broader area, the existence of a conference on the theme of concepts like "Border History" will have more influence in the future. It will be necessary for each researcher to get information more widely.

Shingo Kobori, Graduate School of Letters, Kyoto University


NHCM organized “‘Eurasianized’ Conflicts of Memories and Histories: Reflection from East and Central European Experiences” at EIGHTH EAST ASIAN CONFERENCE ON SLAVIC EURASIAN STUDIES (CHUNG-ANG UNIVERSITY, Seoul, South Korea). Its program is as shown below.

Conflicts over memories and histories are not the specifically Asian problem, but it becomes more serious in contemporary Europe, especially in East and Central part of it. Thus, Asia and Europe simultaneously face the new situation brought through the articulation of memory politics of Russia and China. It is inevitable for the scholars who are trying to understand the formative aspects of the new order after the Cold War period to tackle with the issue how pasts are utilized as political resources. Basing upon these basic understanding our panel (chair: Nobuya Hashimoto) aimed to reflect ‘Eurasianized’ Conflicts of Memories and Histories from the case-studies on East and Central European countries.
Firstly, Yoko Tateishi pointed out the pluralism in historical interpretation in contemporary Russia with analysis on textbook of history. Kenshi Fukumoto surveyed on discourses over the Polish film “Wołyń” and discussed that even scholars cannot take distance from national discourses in Poland and Ukraine. Hisashi Shigematsu also described that the tendency to interpret Kazys Škirpa as a hero for independence is becoming more intensive in contemporary Lithuania. These papers indicated that even though historical interpretation preserve its variety, national perspectives become more dominant in each country. Through the discussion which the two of commentators, Naoki Odanaka and Ja Jeong Koo and also other participants of the panel took part in, it became clear that ‘modernity’ and ‘ideological conversion’ from the left to the right are the significant issues with which should be dealt in future for the purpose of considering to Eurasianized conflicts over histories and memories.

Lecture by Dr. Fariba Adelkhah from Sciences Po, France

In her lecture “The Thousand and One Borders of Iran: Travel and Identity”, Dr. Fariba Adelkhah vividly depicted the Iranian national identity, which has been transformed through cross-border exchanges of people and goods outside of state control by illustrating her own fieldwork results on this issue: pilgrimage to holy sites in Syria, Afghan refugees in Iran, Iranian merchants and their community in Dubai and Iranian community in Los Angels consisted of many political exiles from the Islamic Revolution.

The Persianate society is a cultural sphere in which the Persian language (that is the major language in the Middle East besides the Arabic and Turkish languages) had been used as its common language and inherited the ancient Persian tradition. Though the Islamic Republic of Iran as its center is religiously and ethnically diverse, Iran is characterized by the existence of its firmly established national identity, which differs from other Middle Eastern states suffered from frequent religious and ethnic conflicts. Such Iranian characteristics may have led further lively and wide-range discussions among the audience. Since the regional condition was not entirely comprehensible for many non-Middle-East-specialists, it is regrettable that there was not enough time left to discuss the specific elements of Iranian national identity.

First Regular Conference

The first regular conference was held on the 26-27 March 2017 at Osaka-Umeda Campus of Kwansei Gakuin University. It consisted of these sections.

  • Review Forum
  • Lynn Hunt, Writing History in the Global Era, New York and London, W.W. Norton and Company , 2014, translated into Japanese by Takahiko Hasegawa. Commented by Hitomi Sato (Konan University) and Hideaki Tobe (Tokyo Keizai University).
  • Presentation1
  • What is vernacular studies? Takanori Shimamura (Kwansei Gakuin University)
  • Presentation2
  • The era when pasts are conflicted Nobuya Hashimoto (Kwansei Gakuin University)
  • Presentation3
  • 'The Historiographycal myths of Spanish Transition to Democracy and its current revision'
    Daniel Gomez-Castro(JSPS Post Doctoral Fellow in Japan, Kwansei Gakuin University) .
    Commented by Nobuhiko Kikuchi (National Diet Library)
Carol Gluck Seminar

On the 7 February 2017, a small seminar with Professor Carol Gluck from Columbia University was held at Tokyo-Marunouchi Campus of Kweanse Gakuin University. Professor Gluck talked about the "Politics of Memory in Global Context" project that she had been organizing and commented on Kiokuno Seiji: Yoroppa no Rekishi Ninshiki Funso (Politics of Memories: Conflicted Histories in Europe) Iwanami Shoten, 2016 by Professor Nobuya Hashimoto from Kwansei Gakuin University. Professor Andreas Rusterholz from Kwansei Gakuin University talked about the new book by Aleida Assmann, the leading scholar or memory studies in the world, Formen des Vergessens, Wallstein, 2016. Participants discussed the global scheme of history and memory politics in the world, being stimulated by these talks.