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MACH Seminar Japan's Empire, Images and Realities


Admission requirements



This course explores both the realities and representations of Japan’s colonial empire and its aftermath as part of a broader understanding of nation-building, culture and power in modern Japan and Asia, past and present. Japan’s colonial and wartime past remains a “hot button” issue in Asia, and debates over this history continue to haunt Japan’s relations with its Asian neighbors. Representations of this past can tell us much about the political “uses of the past” in struggles over national identity, nation-building, and international relations, but often avoid the complexities of history. The remarkably varied experiences and legacies of Japan’s colonizations in Asia reflect the diversity and complexity of colonialism and of modern Asia itself. Beginning in the 19th century and ending in the present, this course seeks to explore both the complexity and diversity of this experience, and the mechanisms—in history writing, popular memory, literature and film—through which it has been (mis-) represented, used, and abused in Japan itself as well as in East and Southeast Asia.

Course objectives

To become familiar with the diverse cultural, social, and political dynamics of Japan’s colonial and military interactions with its Asian neighbors as reflected and represented in written and visual media, hereby nurturing an awareness of the inherently political, dynamic, and contentious nature of historical narration and representation. Furthermore to develop and enhance skills in critical reading of academic texts, and in written and oral presentations on academic subjects.


See timetable.

Mode of instruction


Course Load

Total workload for the course: 140 hours

  • Hours spent attending lectures: 26

  • Time for completing readings and webpostings assignments: 65

  • Time to prepare and write the term paper: 49

Assessment method

  • Term Paper 2,500 words, including 500-word paper proposal (50%)

  • Participation, including assistant leadership of one class session and webpostings, and peer-review assignment (50%)


Yes, see for more info Blackboard

Reading list

Course readings will be posted on Blackboard


Registration through uSis. Not registered, means no permission to attend this course. See also the ‘Registrationprocedures for classes and examinations’ for registration deadlines and more information on how to register

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