Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

2 - Mapping "Gateways to the World": Transnational Economic Networks and Spatial Imaginaries in Japan's Commercial Harbors, 1899-1941

Thursday, March 22
7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Location: Virginia Suite C, Lobby Level

My paper traces how ideologies of cosmopolitanism, global capitalism, and imperialism converged to produce and popularize transnational spatial imaginaries in the Japanese commercial ports of Yokohama, Tsuruga, and Nagasaki from 1899 to 1941.  As the overseas networks of these ports shifted with the dramatic global economic reconfigurations of the early twentieth century, local boosters and media organs continually touted their cities as “gateways to the world,” key nodes within Japan’s global economic and transportation networks as well as arbiters of Japan’s commercial and cultural intercourse with the world.  Through mass-market maps and travel guides, this “gateway” idea both literally and figuratively mapped these ports onto transnational topographies that chiefly situated these cities along transnational commercial relationships rather than merely as part the Japanese empire, and sustained civic identities that stressed their role in the global circulation of people, goods, and ideas.


The predication of these imaginaries on both international and imperial networks reveals that imperialism and internationalism co-constituted the web of commercial connections that informed such spatial thinking, putting Japan’s intra-imperial and inter-Asian networks at center stage as much as connections to Europe and North America.  This, in turn, meant that even as the liberal internationalism and global interconnectedness of the 1900s to late 1920s gave way to defense of overseas aggression and economic autarky of the 1930s, these spatial imaginaries continued to thread the needle between identifying with free trade and autarky right up to the descent from the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) into the Pacific War (1941-1945).

Jeffrey C. Guarneri

University of Wisconsin - Madison, Wisconsin

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2 - Mapping "Gateways to the World": Transnational Economic Networks and Spatial Imaginaries in Japan's Commercial Harbors, 1899-1941



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