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Special Issue: Race and Empire in Meiji Japan (Table of Contents)

Edited by Ayelet Zohar

October 15, 2020
Volume 18 | Issue 20 | Number 1
Article ID 5494


This special issue assesses Japan’s passage to modernity through the lens of race and empire, and the interrelationship of the two concepts during the Meiji era. The articles analyze the role of nationalism in Meiji Japan, its interplay with Western concepts of racial hierarchy, and its role in shaping Japanese colonialism and imperialism.

The authors explore Japan’s curiosity about the West from the Iwakura Mission to the United States and Europe beginning in 1873; the encounter of Japanese and white populations through immigration to the United States; the developing imagination of Europe, America, Africa and Asia through geography textbooks; Japan’s reconsideration of its own borders and relations with the neighboring peoples – including subjugation of the Ainu in Hokkaidō, and the educational system of the Ryūkyūs/Okinawa, emphasizing the subpordination and assimilation of local cultures . Uniquely, authors of this issue come from diverse backgrounds and varied fields of research, creating a colorful matrix of points of views, scholarship and new ideas.

I would like to acknowledge Mark Selden's insightful comments and close reading of all articles. Mark has kindly offered us his wise remarks to make the articles brightly accomplish clear and powerful statements. I would also like to acknowledge the tremendous help I received from Mark E. Caprio in editing this issue. Mark's perspective, discerning remarks and advice served as a lighthouse in the process, guiding me through the long route of bringing these articles to their best argument and discussion.




  1. Introduction - Ayelet Zohar

  2. To Adopt a Small or Large State Mentality: The Iwakura Mission and Japan’s Meiji-era Foreign Policy Dilemma - Mark E. Caprio

  3. A Japanese Anomaly: Theodore Roosevelt and Japan’s Racial Identity at the Turn of the Twentieth Century - Tarik Merida

  4. Recycled Images: 21st Century Edition of Fukuzawa Yukichi’s Geography Textbook - Elena Baibikov

  5. Forced labour in Imperial Japan’s First Colony: Hokkaidō - Pia M. Jolliffe

  6. Between a Forgotten Colony and an Abandoned Prefecture: Okinawa’s experience of becoming Japanese in the Meji and Taishō Eras - Stanisław Meyer

This is the Table of Contents for the special issue: Race and Empire in Meiji Japan.

Ayelet Zohar
(PhD, University of London) is a Senior Lecturer at the Art History Dept., Tel Aviv University. Zohar specializes in the study of Japanese photography, from the Meiji Era to contemporary practices. She is the editor (together with Alison J. Miller) of The Visual Culture of Meiji Japan: Negotiating Transition to Modernity (forthcoming, Routledge, 2021).