"Gaikō vs. yūkō?: Conceptual challenges in writing a history of early modern Japanese diplomatic relations" by Birgit Tremml-Werner at Sophia U., June 20th

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Sophia University Institute of Comparative Culture Lecture Series 2019


Gaikō vs. yūkō? (外交vs友好?)

Conceptual challenges in writing a history of early modern Japanese diplomatic relations


Birgit Tremml-Werner


18:30-20:00, June 20th, 2019

Room 301, Building 10, Sophia University


Despite the regular use of friendship in diplomatic documents exchanged between Japan and European trading nations we know little about the strategies and ideologies behind it, let alone the relationship between friendship semantics and implicit articulations of friendship in ritualised communication. Translating friendship around 1600 meant that people on the ground first had to find parallels before intermediaries could translate them in a way their sovereigns would understand. What complicates the picture even further is the nature of the sources and the historiography of diplomatic exchange on Japan’s early encounter with Europe. The example of political friendship allows to trace multiple layers of co-produced historiography and terminology as well as continuities and ruptures in the language of early modern and modern foreign relations.


Birgit Tremml-Werner is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Chair for Global History at the University of Zurich. Her work focuses mainly on early modern history and various aspects of cross-cultural communication processes. She is the author of the award-winning monograph Spain, China, and Japan in Manila, 1571-1644. Global Comparisons and Local Connections (Amsterdam University Press, 2015); She also published on diplomacy, piracy and other topics of early modern commercial relations in maritime Southeast Asia. For her current book project, she works on the Japanese translator historian Murakami Naojirō (1868-1966), the fourth president of Sophia University. She traces the impact of Murakami’s scholarship on the narratives of early Tokugawa foreign engagement and his involvement in conceptualising the Southern Seas (nan’yō) in relation to early modern Japanese expansion.


Language: English / No Prior registration necessary / This talk is organized by Professor Bettina Gramlich-Oka (FLA)



Institute of Comparative Culture (ICC) Sophia University: 7-1 Kioicho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-8554, JAPAN/ Web: http://icc.fla.sophia.ac.jp/