Empire as a Moral Problem: Religious Cosmopolitanism and Colonial Modernity in Northeast Asia

E. Taylor Atkins, Northern Illinois University
E. Taylor Atkins, Northern Illinois University
Thursday, April 3, 2014 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm
Thomson Hall 317

In the early twentieth century, against the backdrop of colonial violence, the Japanese annexation of Korea, and World War I, religious and secular groups in East Asia voiced support for a new ethos of humanitarian internationalism. This presentation examines the confluences between millenarian “new religions” such as Chŏndogyo (Korea), Omotokyō (Japan), and Daoyuan (China), Bahá’ís, Esperantists and other groups espousing world peace, gender and social equality, and religious unity. Under the scrutiny of the Japanese imperial state, these communities presented teachings that were inimical to colonial hierarchies, but they had to do so without resort to the standard means and methods of social, economic, and political reform, such as protests, provocative civil disobedience, lobbying, electioneering, coercion, and either the threat or actual use of political violence.

E. Taylor Atkins is Presidential Teaching Professor of History at Northern Illinois University. He earned his B.A. from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, and his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research encompasses ethnomusicology, cultural studies, and jazz studies, with specific attention to nationalism, colonialism, aesthetics, and commemorative practices. He is the author of two books: Blue Nippon: Authenticating Jazz in Japan (2001), which won the John Whitney Hall Prize from the Association for Asian Studies; and Primitive Selves: Koreana in the Japanese Colonial Gaze, 1910-45 (2010), a study of Korean culture in the imperial Japanese imagination. He also edited Jazz Planet (2003), the first scholarly collection of studies of jazz as performed and discussed outside the United States. His research has been supported by Fulbright and Japan Foundation fellowships, and his articles have appeared in Jazz Perspectives, Journal of Asian Studies, American Music, positions, and Japanese Studies.

Sponsored by the UW Center for Korea Studies. For more information, please call 206-543-4873, email uwcks@uw.edu or visit http://jsis.washington.edu/korea/.