The 6th Hasekura Seminar "Japan's Castles: Citadels of Modernity in War and Peace

Date July 3, 2019 13:00~14:30
Place Room 208, Graduate School of Arts and Letters, Tohoku UniversityMAP
Host International Graduate Program in Japanese Studies
【speaker】Ran Zwigenberg (Associate Professor, Pennsylvania State University)
【abstract】Both home and abroad, Japan’s castles serve as prominent symbols of local, regional, and national identity. Castles occupy the center of most major Japanese cities and are universally recognizable as sites of heritage and as a link to the nation’s past.  The current prominence of castles obscures their troubled modern history. After the restoration of 1868, castles, no longer of immediate military significance, became symbols of authority, on one hand, and of vaunted tradition on the other.  As the specific role castles played changed over time, they became sites of fierce contention. Particularly, castles were a major factor in the militarization of Japanese society before the Second World War and, after 1945, were important tools for demilitarizing Japan both physically and symbolically to turn it into a “nation of peace and culture.” Based on my recent co-authored book, this talk examines Japan’s castles from the late nineteenth century to the present to reconsider narratives of continuity and change in modern Japan.
Ran Zwigenberg is assistant professor at Pennsylvania State University. His research focuses on modern Japanese and European history. He has taught and lectured in the United States, Europe, Israel, and Japan, and published on issues of war memory, heritage, atomic energy, psychiatry, and survivor politics.  Zwigenberg’s first book, Hiroshima: The Origins of Global Memory Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2014), was winner of the 2016 Association for Asian Studies’ John W. Hall book award. His most recent work is Japan’s Castles: Citadels of Modernity in War and Peace (Cambridge University Press, 2019, co-authored with Oleg Benesch).