Intensified contacts between East Asia and Europe from 1600 onwards affected perceptions of and attitudes towards historical time in both regions. Non-European adaptations of the European past and vice versa shaped a global language of temporality and historicity. Distinctive labels for historical change have shaped narrative practices across historiographical traditions. Often they have been essentialized by colligatory concepts such as “Medieval”, “Renaissance” or “colonialism”. The roundtable suggests that the recurrence of these labels in European and East Asian historiography should be understood as the result of the co-production of narratives of historical change rather than as a simple transfer of knowledge from Europe to Asia. The panelists will reconstruct the circulation and transformation of narrative tropes and notions between Europe and East Asia. Their aim is to reconsider the synthesizing and synchronizing effect of globalized forms of historical writing in East Asia by examining how the explicit and implicit use of certain languages and concepts shaped both scholarship and popular discourse.
Joachim Kurtz will trace domestications of the “Middle Ages” in Chinese and Japanese reinterpretations of East Asian history and discuss their contribution to a globalized imaginary of medievalisms.
David Mervart proposes to look into how domestic Sino-Japanese historiographical categories of peaceable universal rule and chaotic warring states interacted with the category of “empire” and questions whether nineteenth-century East Asian observers could have seen themselves confronted with an “imperialism” of the West.
Birgit Tremml-Werner will discuss how intensified contacts with Western politics and historiographies influenced Japanese intellectual elites in shaping notions and narratives of past foreign relations based on new temporalities in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.
Jon Chappell will argue that late Qing reformers drew on a perceived age of colonialism in European history to reconceptualise pro-colonisation policies on the Qing empire’s frontiers.
Kyonghee Lee will suggest that certain assumptions about European visions for the rural in the industrialized age contributed to reworking the temporalized putative essence of the urban and the rural in conservative rural reform ideas of the 1920s in East Asia.