The Mountain Castle and the Empire-State in late-nineteenth century Japan

This is an Archive of a Past Event

Martin Dusinberre , Lecturer, Modern Japanese History, Newcastle University

For more than a decade in the late-nineteenth century, as Japan underwent a transition from semi-colonized to colonial state, a steamship by the name of the Yamashiro-maru (Mountain Castle) played a key role in connecting Japan to the wider Asia-Pacific region. Building on a renewed interest in maritime history within the profession as a whole, this paper examines how a ship-centred history offers us new perspectives on Japan’s engagement with the outside world during the period of what C. A. Bayly calls the “great acceleration” in world history. Focusing primarily on the relationship between modernity, migration and empire, I use the history of the Yamashiro-maru to question the temporal and spatial framing of Japanese imperialism by scholars to date, and to suggest an alternative way of conceptualizing the history of Meiji Japan (1868-1912).