Sponsored by the War Memoryscapes in Asia Project (WARMAP), British Association of Japanese Studies, Center for Asia-Pacific Future Studies and Kyushu University Border Studies.
Kyushu University, Nishijin Plaza, Fukuoka
December 17-18, 2016
In July 2015, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee officially added 23 Japanese locations, under the collective heading “Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining” – most of them here in Kyushu – to its registry of World Heritage sites. Previous months had seen strenuous protests by Korean and Chinese authorities opposing the nomination on the grounds that it ignored the wartime use at these sites of Chinese and Korean forced labor. They demanded as a minimum that the deaths and sufferings of these workers receive commemoration. The dispute served as a reminder that the supposedly ‘universal value’ of World Heritage is politically constructed, and that individual sites may be commemorated for very different reasons by different constituencies or in different national contexts. The memories invoked by particular heritage sites do not necessarily cross national borders intact.
This conference will focus on East Asia’s current heritage boom, particularly as it relates to memories of war and conflict, situating it within a wider political and historical context. We are interested in examining how states in East Asia seek to shore up the boundaries of the nation through collective memorials, and how the national body is policed by prescribing the boundaries of acceptable memory. Other issues of interest include the cross-border or transnational commemoration of war heritage, and the related phenomenon of ‘dark tourism’. By bringing together an interdisciplinary group of scholars to reflect on how memories of conflict are transmitted, received and reinterpreted within and across East Asian societies, the conference will deepen and enrich our understanding of the significance of war heritage for contemporary national identities and international relations.