History does not stand still. Historians in the 21st Century ask questions of the past—and reach at least preliminary answers—that had not even occurred to an earlier generation. To borrow the words of Harvard historian Akira Iriye, there has been, in recent decades, a “significant new development in the way in which historians conceptualize and seek to understand the past.”1 Among the few disciplinary constants is the primacy of the primary source, even if each individual historian’s choice of research materials is locked in a mutual embrace with the questions that they are asking.
British Commonwealth archives constitite a rich and often under-utilized source of material for understanding the international history of the 20th and 21st centuries. From the late 19th Century onward, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand each enjoyed close and confidential relations with not just Britain, but with each other and increasingly, too, with the United States. They also participated in major international organizations at both an official and non-governmental level. Although or perhaps because each was a “middle” rather than “great” power, as each country developed its own diplomatic bureaucracy, their representatives often had informal and even intimate insights into the policies of a wide range of countries. This article introduces the highlights of each nation’s major archival repositories for materials relating to international affairs. While the holdings of the Library and Archives of Canada in Ottawa, the National Archives of Australia and the National Library of Australia in Canberra, and the National Archives of New Zealand in Wellington all feature prominently, the author casts a wider net and draw researchers’ attention to additional important and often under-utilized collections scattered across the different countries.
While access to library and archival collections in mainland China remains unclear due to the ongoing covid-19 pandemic and increasing government scrutiny, past experiences in Chinese archives are still relevant for scholars going forward, in the event that the People’s Republic of China reopens the doors to these collections. In surveying the digital, print publication, and manuscript collections pertaining to the Chinese history of World War ii, this article shows how access to new kinds of sources redefined the pre-pandemic state of the field. In particular, curated volumes that emphasized perspectives from the Chinese Communist Party and leftist intellectuals gradually have given way to a more representative collection of the documentary evidence, and Taiwanese collections continue to be important to the historiography. The article begins with coverage of well-known guides and published catalogues of mainland and Taiwanese collections. It then covers some military documents that Chinese scholars occasionally have referenced. It emphasizes the richness of accessible material on the social and cultural history of the war era as part of a call to colleagues and future students to expand the scope of what is traditionally thought to be “military history.” There is ample opportunity for major interventions into our understanding of wartime China, which shaped the course of modern history overall, and major innovations in historiography that scholars usually make from the dusty reading rooms of the libraries and archives.
This theme issue of the Journal of American-East Asian Relations is different. It presents three articles describing primary source and archival materials related to World War ii in the British Commonwealth, China, and Japan with which readers might not be immediately familiar. These essays are timely and have special value because covid-19 led to the closing of archives and manuscript repositories across the globe. However, a positive outcome of the pandemic has been that it has accelerated digitization of primary sources and electronic access to them. Peter Mauch, senior lecturer in Asian History at
This essay introduces readers to the recent discovery of the personal papers of Grand Steward Tajima Michiji. These documents capture the post-surrender reflections of Hirohito, Japan’s Shōwa Emperor, and record him speaking on such issues as his war responsibility, as well as the culpability of prewar politicians such as Konoe Fumimaro and General Tōjō Hideki. In August 2019, Nippon Hoso Kyokai (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) (nhk) announced that it had gained privileged access to the papers. Acting on advice from scholars, it then released extracts from Tajima’s audience records. Drawing not on the Tajima papers themselves, but on what the nhk has made available, the documents demonstrate that Hirohito, after Japan’s surrender, experienced anguish and over the war and its outcome. He continued as emperor because he accepted “moral responsibility” for the war that required him to help his nation and its people endure occupation and reconstruction. This article also describes Hirohito’s postwar reflections on several issues, such as Japanese field officers and subordinates in the 1930s initiating without authorization acts of aggression, the Rape of Nanjing, and Japan’s postwar rearmament. While the Tajima papers will not resolve the ongoing debate over the emperor’s responsibility for Japan’s path of aggression before 1945, they do provide valuable insights about his role in and reaction to events before, during, and after World War ii.
This article introduces readers to World War ii-era Japanese primary sources that have become available, over the last three decades, at the major archives and libraries. It also illustrates how and why some of these hitherto unavailable archival materials have become publicly accessible. At first, political, diplomatic and military historians primarily conducted their research at Diplomatic Archives, Military Archives, and the Modern Japanese Political History Materials Room, until the Japanese Diet passed a law in 2011 stipulating that all government and agencies, except for the Foreign Ministry and Imperial Household Agency, must transfer archived documents to the National Archives of Japan (naj). Enhancing its importance for research, the naj played the lead role in creating and maintaining the Japan Center for Asian Historical Records that has sustained a major effort at digitization. Other important primary sources include documents related to Emperor Hirohito, the Documents on Japanese Foreign Policy series, holdings of the Military History Department, and materials non-governmental organizations have published. The amount of Japanese source materials and their digitization now has reached a level that meets the U.S. and European standards.
is an associate professor at Teikyō University (Tokyo). He has written Kaigai senbotusha no sengoshi: ikotsu kikan to irei [The Postwar History of Those who Died Abroad in Battle: Returning the Remains and War Memorial] (Yoshikawa Kōbunkan, 2014) and as a Japanese Foreign Ministry official between 2004 and 2014, he participated in the compilation of numerous volumes of the official Nihon gaikō bunsho (Documents on Japanese Foreign Policy) series.
is senior lecturer of Asian history at Western Sydney University (Australia). He specializes in modern Japanese history. Among his publications are
As a semantic reaction against the miserabilism derived from the economic crisis and social instability of the first half of the nineteenth century, joie de vivre surfaced in France. It denotes enjoyment and the ability to recover from calamitous events. In The Insect (1857) by Jules Michelet, joie de vivre constitutes movement and architectural creation, epitomised in the beehive – ‘the veritable Athens of the Insect World’. Yet the sentiment turns ambiguous in La Joie de vivre (1883) by Émile Zola, for whom it is an attitude required not only to face the contradictions of modernity but also to succeed in the capitalist manipulation of nature through architecture. To explore how the built environment manifests emotional experience, this essay follows the trajectory of joie de vivre, from its appearance as an idiomatic amalgamation to other conceptual variations, including élan vital and jouissance.
Hampton, Timothy, Cheerfulness: A Literary and Cultural History (New York: Zone Books, 2022). ISBN: 9781942130604.
This is a valuable addition to the history of emotion – intellectual history division. Timothy Hampton, a comparative literature scholar, traces the rise of references to cheerfulness, and their meanings, from the later Middle Ages through the increasing routinisation of the emotion in Enlightenment and early nineteenth-century characterisations, to its commercialisation in the twentieth-century. Data derive primarily from literature and philosophy, but there are brief and useful references to nineteenth-century advice literature and to several more popular genres in the twentieth-century
What then does ich bin mean? The old word bauen, to which the bin belongs, answers: ich bin, du bist mean: I dwell, you dwell. The way in which you are and I am, the manner in which we humans are on the earth, is Buan, dwelling. To be a human being means to be on the earth as a mortal. It means to dwell.1
Thus, we build. I am not generally given to quoting Heidegger, and it perhaps will not repay the reader too much