Placing Empire

Placing Empire

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Placing Empire examines the spatial politics of Japanese imperialism through a study of Japanese travel and tourism to Korea, Manchuria, and Taiwan between the late nineteenth century and the early 1950s. In a departure from standard histories of Japan, this book shows how debates over the place of colonized lands reshaped the social and spatial imaginary of the modern Japanese nation. In turn, this sociospatial imaginary affected the ways in which colonial difference was conceptualized and enacted. The book thus illuminates how ideas of place became central to the production of new forms of colonial hierarchy as empires around the globe transitioned from an era of territorial acquisition to one of territorial maintenance.

“Tourism ‘made’ the empire and was instrumental in turning Asian lands into Japanese space. In her thoughtful and sophisticated study, Kate McDonald shows how traveling to overseas battlefields and cultural sights not only brought the empire closer for many Japanese, but also made it home.” SEBASTIAN CONRAD, author of The Quest for the Lost Nation: Writing History in Germany and Japan in the American Century

“McDonald re-creates a geographic and social imaginary of colonial incorporation through Japanese travel and tourism. Bold and ambitious, this book contributes to the understanding of the spatial politics of empire building, a subject of great interest to scholars of Japanese empire and beyond.” LEO T.S. CHING, Duke University

“Richly researched and written in an accessible language, Placing Empire interrogates imperial tourism as an essential engine that drove the making of empire. McDonald brings into focus the mechanisms of imperial tourism to explain how colonial territories— Korea, Manchuria and Taiwan— were incorporated into the empire, not only in terms of geography but, more important, of social imagination. A long-awaited and timely contribution to the fi eld.” HELEN J.S. LEE, Yonsei University

KATE McDONALD is Assistant Professor of Modern Japanese History at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

This book is included in DOAB.

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  • colonial difference
  • geography of civilization
  • geography of cultural pluralism
  • Japanese Empire
  • Korea
  • Manchuria
  • Place
  • spatial history
  • Taiwan
  • Tourism


DOI: 10.1525/luminos.34


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