Looking for discussants: China, Japan, and the 19th-century Eurocentric International Order – “Talking Back to Civilization” 26 May Osaka University

Yone Sugita's picture
May 26, 2018
Subject Fields: 
Asian History / Studies, East Asian History / Studies, Japanese History / Studies, Diplomacy and International Relations, Political Science

Dear Colleagues:

We will hold an international seminar on the Asia-Pacific studies on 26 May 2018 (Saturday) at Osaka University (Toyonaka Campus). We have the honor to have Dr. Henna-Rikka Pennanen at Osaka University. Her seminar paper will be ready (1 week prior to the seminar) which is available only for participants. We are also looking for discussants. If you are willing to  attend either as participants or as discussants, please let me know. Yone Sugita:  sugita@lang.osaka-u.ac.jp

Thank you.




Ph.D. Henna-Riikka Pennanen

Postdoctoral researcher

The John Morton Center for North American Studies

University of Turku

Specially-Appointed Assistant Professor, Osaka University


China, Japan, and the 19th-century Eurocentric International Order – “Talking Back to Civilization”


In the nineteenth century, European countries expanded their sphere of international relations. In doing so, they carried with them the European notions of international order and rules of interstate relations, including such ideas as the states-system, sovereignty, balance of power, diplomacy, and international law. China and Japan were soon to find out that they were expected to embrace these notions and join the “family of nations,” or risk a conflict with the Europeans. However, the family of nations was for members only, and as Suzuki Shogo explains, aspiring members had to adopt the identity and rules of the society. What the candidates particularly needed, was to meet the ambiguous “standard of civilization.” In making their case for membership, the Chinese and Japanese turned to the foreign press. They adopted and utilized the concepts of the European international order, as well as the Euro-American rhetorical commonplaces. In effect, they engaged in what Frederick Hoxie has termed “talking back to civilization.”

This paper studies the Chinese and Japanese self-representations and their attempts to mold the public opinion in the U.S. media from the late 1870s to 1910. The questions to be asked are: what were the Chinese and Japanese arguing, how, and for what ends? The main focus is on the portrayals of national identity, and the status, role, and objectives of China and Japan in the international order of the day.


Yoneyuki Sugita <sugita@lang.osaka-u.ac.jp>
Osaka University