East Asian Languages and Cultures | Seminar in East Asian Studies
E600 | 3664 | O'Bryan

TOPIC:  The Rise and Fall of Racial Empires in Germany and Japan

In the 1930s both Germany and Japan embarked on new periods of
aggressive imperial expansion. Both took great risks to secure
their ‘place in the sun’ in an increasingly atomized world of
imperial blocs and economic autarky. Armed with notions of racial
superiority, both adopted pacification and colonization policies of
unparalleled ferocity. Faced with an increasingly powerful coalition
of enemies, both sought to redefine their imperial purposes by
casting their missions as universal ones while simultaneously
clinging to self-perceptions understood in particularistic racial
and cultural terms. Finally, both suffered annihilating defeat,
triggering reappraisals of their modern histories, institutional
adjustments and an end to the imperial game. How should we
understand these parallels? How distinctive were these two empires
in the broader history of modern imperialism, and how consistent and
deeply rooted were their imperial visions? How coherent and
appropriate is the notion of ‘racial empire’ as an account of their
respective visions and trajectories? Using a mixture of  secondary
and translated primary sources this graduate colloquium will explore
this fascinating example of comparative history.

This course meets with HIST H675; credit is given for only one of
EALC E600 and HIST H675 on this topic.