[PAST EVENT] Love in the Time of Opium: The Centennial of China's Opium War in the Culture of Imperial Japan

February 22, 2013
3pm - 4:30pm
Chancellors Hall (formerly Tyler Hall), Room 102
300 James Blair Dr
Williamsburg, VA 23185Map this location
The centennial of the Opium War (1839-1842), in which Great Britain defeated the Qing empire, was hardly a moment of rejoicing for Chinese nationalists. For Japan, however, the occasion presented an opportunity to legitimize the nation's own ongoing, undeclared war with China, which had raged intermittently since 1931. The late 1930s and early 1940s witnessed a boom in Japanese-language scholarship, drama, art, literature and film concerning the conflict. Cultural producers of diverse backgrounds and ideological orientations came together to deploy the tale of China's humiliation by the West as summons for Pan-Asian cooperation. They argued that only submission to Japanese military and political domination could free Asia from oppression by the great powers. However, due to inconsistencies in Pan-Asian ideology and the complexities of the Opium War history, intended audiences, including Japan's colonial subjects and the Chinese themselves, often took away a very different message from what the empire intended.

Professor Kingsberg specializes in the history of modern Japan. Her book, Moral Nation: Modern Japan and Narcotics in Global History (under contract with the University of California Press), examines illegal drugs as the foundation of a global consensus on the nature of political legitimacy in nations and empires. She is currently researching the history of anthropology, archaeology and national identity in twentieth-century Japan. Professor Kingsberg received her B.A./M.A. from Brandeis University in 2003 and her Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in 2009. She spent 2010-2012 on leave as an Academy Scholar at the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies. She can be reached at: miriam.kingsberg@colorado.edu.

[[eewilcox, Emily Wilcox]]