Organized Panel Session
Our panel examines how actors across the Japanese empire shaped Pacific networks of circulation. Recent scholarship on Pacific empires has called attention to the ways that mobilities and intersections of imperial power shape maritime space (Sand 2016). Our four papers highlight how inter- and intra-imperial competition, economic crises, and technological change precipitated the reconceptualization and reconfiguration of maritime spaces and their networks of people, capital, ideas, and institutions in the 19th and 20th centuries. Catherine Phipps will examine the connected processes whereby Osaka and Kobe were integrated into maritime shipping networks, and emerged as hubs for foreign trade. James Gerien-Chen will examine how Taiwanese subjects in South China sought to utilize ties with Japan’s imperial institutions to contest Guomindang policies implemented to centralize control over social and economic activities in China. Elijah Greenstein will examine how Japanese shipping companies—challenged by fast and efficient British and American ships—endeavored to secure assistance from the state by representing trans-Pacific sea-lanes as key arenas of inter-imperial competition. Jeffrey Guarneri will explore how business leaders and government officials in 1920s and 1930s Yokohama worked to establish their city as a central hub in an impending “Age of the Pacific” in which Japan and the Pacific would dominate global commerce. We will adopt an innovative panel format, in which panelists will begin by summarizing each other’s pre-circulated papers, followed by comments from our discussant, Kate McDonald.