The Role of Mapping in the Emergence of Japan as a Sea Power in the Late-nineteenth-century

Friday 6 May, 2016
5:00pm BST - 6:30pm BST

Pavilion Room, 4th Floor, Gateway Building, St. Antony’s College, Oxford


Dr Radu Leca (Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Fellow)
Professor Ian Neary (Convenor)

About the Talk

The development of maritime mapping in nineteenth-century Japan is indebted both to the legacy of earlier surveying activities and to the use of British and French expertise. After 1860s, maps were promoted as one of the symbols of the period’s spirit of ‘civilization and enlightenment’. In this context, in what ways did the uses of maritime maps align with the development of the Meiji state? I focus on three moments of maritime military engagement where maps played a significant role: the Taiwan Expedition of 1874, the Ganghwa Island incident of 1875, and naval engagements during the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-5. These show that maritime mapping often preceded aggressive military engagement by the Japanese Empire. Additionally, the wider significance of maritime mapping in the Meiji period emerges when considering the perception of maps in vernacular culture, as visible in contemporary woodblock prints and newspaper reports.

Further Information

From its start in the 1980s the institute has organised a series of Nissan Seminars in Japanese Studies. In the academic year 2015/16 they run on Friday evenings at 5.00 – 6.30 p.m. in the first (Michaelmas) and third (Trinity) terms, and on Thursdays at 2.00 p.m. in the second (Hilary) Term. We invite scholars based in the UK to present their most recent research. Members of the general public are welcome to attend.

Research Centre

Nissan Institute of Japanese Studies

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