However, the extent to which European imperialism was responsible for the outbreak of World War I is both an open and a controversial question.
Less well remembered, especially outside of Japan, is a different image of the empire, of a vast collection of territories that was home to diverse peoples, climates, geographies, flora and fauna.
The two postcards below—from and —conjure a Japanese empire that stretched from subarctic Sakhalin to the tropical Micronesian islands. A postcard from portraying the Japanese empire as a geographically far-flung, diverse assemblage of peoples and places.
The card below emphasizes the centrality of the imperial throne and Tokyo to the empire, while clarifying its boundaries with solid colors on both the postcard itself and commemorative stamp that was issued along with it to celebrate the imperial census of A Commemorative Postcard: Such postcards promoted a popular geographic consciousness that imagined all of the territories colored red or pink as a single political unit.
At the same time, other types of postcards highlighted the customs and environments of specific localities in the empire: Singing Girls are Resting at the Front Yard.
The importance of these postcards for understanding how the empire was imagined, sustained, and inhabited has been generally overlooked by historians. As I hope to demonstrate is this series of posts, however, they are an important historical resource.
For one, picture postcards propagated a complex and detailed though highly selective vision of empire-building and colonial rule to mass readerships in Japan for fifty years. Moreover, the motifs and themes institutionalized during colonial rule, as well as the photographs and postcards themselves, have continued to be reproduced in the post-colonial era.
Picture postcards are resistant to systematic analysis because they are mostly scattered among private collectors. As ephemeral documents, they have generally eluded academic and state archiving procedures. Nonetheless, there are a growing number of institutional repositories that have made large collections available to researchers.
Drawing upon these newly available resources, this series of posts will argue that a careful analysis of picture-postcard content, distribution, and commonalities and differences from other print media can provide new insights into the mechanisms and after effects of Japanese colonial rule in Asia in the early twentieth century.
Postcards and Other Forms of Mass Media a School Textbooks To make the argument for the importance of postcard research for understanding Japanese imperialism, we begin with a discussion of how the picture-postcard medium contributed to the production of imperial space via the medium of public school textbooks.
Among the media that drew upon postcard images were Ministry of Education textbooks . Below, I will discuss a number of examples of this phenomenon, and demonstrate how textbook editors altered photographic evidence.
In addition, I will show that in some cases, postcard publishers and textbook editors were drawing from the same pool of photographs, each one tailoring the imagery to different ends.
The point of the exercise is to indicate how the study of the postcard medium can serve as a fulcrum into a fuller study of imperial photography, reprographic technology, and other meaning-making enterprises. The four textbook images discussed below are taken from and Ministry of Education Primary School Geography textbooks.
The first example, from Karafuto, not only reveals how a picture postcard prefigured a textbook illustration; it also shows how photographs were altered as they made the journey from negatives to etchings.
The next example is from the same textbook. In this instance, it is unlikely that the textbook illustrators used postcards as source material, though it is revealing to consider how their editorial preferences differed from postcard producers.
For one, the portrait of the couple enclosed in red is reversed from the photographic print on the postcard. Captioning, in a addition to image manipulation, allowed textbook editors to frame images to convey particular visions of imperial spaces and populations.
In other words, does the granularity lost in the standardization of geographically varied terminology produce metropolitan conceptions of empire that obscure important distinctions among and within colonies, to the determinant of rulers and ruled?
Moving from captioning choices to cropping strategies, we can see other editorial impulses on display in this image. In the next illustration, the original photograph is sandwiched between the picture postcard and textbook versions of the illustration.
First, the textbook illustrator cropped out the mountain tops see yellow enclosuresmaking it difficult to discern the steep terrain suggest by the photograph, and especially the postcard.
Given the high levels of primary-school attendance in Japan between andand the boom in postcard production that was coterminous, it is possible that these two mediums were the main conduits of visual information about the empire to Japanese citizens. Over the long course of imperial textbook production, pictures of Taiwan Indigenous Peoples eventually disappeared, though postcard production continued to flourish.
The above example is provided to suggest a method for analyzing how a study of each medium can inform our understanding of the other, and why an analysis that excludes picture-postcards would be incomplete.
The postcard below was issued in or earlier, while the textbook image is from a textbook. If we juxtapose these images, we soon discover that there are a number of striking omissions and transformations in the textbook version below.
Here, a young female, an older man in a traditional Korean black hat katand a man in a police cap enclosed in purple have been removed from the scene.
Two of the highlighted figures in the photograph are looking at the camera, as is the bearded man highlighted with an orange circle. In the textbook version, the beard is gone, and the man staring into the camera has been replaced with a younger boy who is averting his gaze.
The girl with a black pony-tail in the postcard had been given a head-scarf in the textbook illustration blue circle.Outline of History; Prehistory — Prehistory, the rise of civilization, and the ancient Middle East to c B.C.E. Prehistory to c BCE — Unit 1: Prehistory and the rise of Civilization to c B.C.E..
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The Institute for Defence and Security Studies NSW aims to promote informed debate on, and to improve public awareness and understanding of, defence and national security. THE BASIC TEACHINGS OF BUDDHISM. Ah, love, let us be true To one another! for the world, which seems To lie before us like a land of dreams, So various, so beautiful, so new.
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