Organized Panel Session
This panel brings together scholars of East Asian and international history to explore urgent questions of the intertwined relationship between displacement and empire. Focusing on the mid-nineteenth century to the early Cold War period, our presenters explore these issues through studies involving China, Japan, and Korea in their relationships with one another, and with other nations and empires. Our papers address the ways in which these transnational and trans-imperial interests overlapped, aligned, or collided in the uprooting, channelling, and/or management of peoples themselves displaced through imperial processes and projects.
Focusing on state efforts to confront overseas trafficking of Chinese labourers in the late Qing, Nicholas McGee investigates the limits of humanitarian intervention in the context of unequal treaties, extraterritoriality and European hegemony. Michael Roellinghoff takes us to the borderlands of the Japanese and Russian empires, exploring how the bodies of the Ainu people became ‘tokens of sovereignty’ for the advancing Japanese state in its territorial disputes in Sakhalin and the Kurile islands in the 1870s. Moving to South China, Helena Lopes centres on the impact and control of refugees in colonial Hong Kong and Macau during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-45). Finally, Deokhyo Choi challenges the metropole-colony binary by investigating reciprocal return migrations of Japanese in Korea and Koreans in Japan during the post-war American occupations.
Based on underexplored sources from archives across multiple countries and languages, these papers offer new directions in the history of East Asia, through the investigation of displacements integral to empire building and empire dissolution.