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Lecture | Leiden University Nationalism Network

Nationalism in Ancient East-Asian States: Japan & Korea

Wednesday 20 November 2019
Leiden University Nationalism Network
Kamerlingh Onnes Building
Steenschuur 25
2311 ES Leiden

Prof. dr. Wim Boot (emeritus Japan Studies): Japan

After the forced opening of the country in 1854, Japan saw itself obliged to turn itself into a modern nation-state, with everything that went with it: the creation of a centralized bureaucracy, a system of general education, a national standard language, a modern army based on general conscription, codes of law, etc. In order to make these changes acceptable to the population, a nationalistic ideology was needed. Interestingly, the new leadership did not adopt an ethnic definition of ‘the Japanese’, but defined the nation in terms of the emperor: the emperor was the embodiment of the nation, and the Japanese were his subjects. This choice was the result of historical developments that took place between the early seventh century and 1867, and its influence lasts until today.

Prof. dr. Remco Breuker (Korea Studies): Korea

The rise of a national consciousness on the Korean peninsula is often dated to the late 19th century, when the state gave way to foreign invaders. As a reaction to the obliteration of everything they knew and held dear, Korean literati came to discover and construct the Korean nation and its long history. Empirically, this position is no longer tenable, mainly because the origins of a national (or region-transcending) consciousness can be traced back as far as the eleventh century, begging the question whether the Korean peninsula has not been witness to several instances of the emergence of region-transcending consciousnesses.


Students and staff are welcome. Registration is not needed for this seminar.

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