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PEIR Seminar IR


Admission requirements

There are no admission requirements for the course.


The title, an inter-‘national’ relation of Japan presupposes the existence of the nation-state. Yet, the concept of sovereignty, nation-state, and territory are all modern concepts that became ubiquitous through the expansion of European International Society—be it in the form of the imposition of unequal treaties, colonization, or socialization. Working with the thesis that to presuppose the ‘national’ to speak of international relations of Japan is inadequate to understand the contemporary impasse in inter-Asian international politics after decolonization in 1945, this course offers a vantage point with which to review the relations between Japan and the world by historicizing these global ‘common-sense’. Why is there a statue of Indian Judge Pal within the premises of the Yasukuni War Shrine? Why do Japan’s neighbors become anxious when there are talks of making Japan a ‘normal’ state? To think through these questions together, we begin from the mid-nineteenth century rather than 1945 when many, though not all, former colonies became independent nation-states. The concept of the international is inadequate in comprehending Japanese imperialism and decolonization, or the memories of war and colonial rule that continue to implicitly bind contemporary Japanese security discourse.

Course objectives

The syllabus is crafted with the aim of cultivating a historically informed and comparative approach to the study of Japanese Inter-‘national’ relations. Rather than presupposing contemporary norms that govern international relations, students are asked to analyze contemporary events in light of overlapping layers of various conceptions of political orders. How are some past memories evoked in international relations between Japan and Asia and the West, how are some memories suppressed? What were the theoretical dillemmas that those in the non-‘West’ faced amidst the transformation of international order in the nineteenth and twentieth century? How do transition and translation intertwine in theorizing international relations? How might we think of the imperial debris that hums in the present?

Mode of instruction

Lecture and seminar

Course Load

All students MUST (140 hours for 5ECs):
1. Attend and participate in 13 x 2-hour lecture/seminar sessions (26hours)
2. Complete the required readings prior to class and actively participate in seminar discussions (3hours x 12 equals to 36hours)
3. Write two research papers (20hours and 60hours, total of 80hours)

Assessment method

Participation 20%
Midterm Essay (1000words including footnotes and references) 30%
Final Essay (2000-2500words including footnotes and references) 50%

In order for the student to obtain a grade ALL components must be completed.

For resit student only takes theh resit for the parts that were insufficient. The sufficient parts cannot be re-taken.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • Access to syllabus only.

  • The readings will not be placed on blackboard. Students must find these themselves, more to be instructed on the first day of seminar.

Reading list

Nakae Chomin, A Discourse by Three Drunkards on Government. Translated by Nobuko Tsukui (Boston, Weatherhill, 1984)

Barak Kushner eds., The Dismantling of Japan’s empire in East Asia: deimperialization, postwar legitimation and imperial afterlife (New York, Routledge 2017)


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in [English]) and Dutch