Bodies and Structures 2.0: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian History

The Science of Empire

The modernization and development that Han Chinese officers envisioned for Xing An grew out of the global circulation of ideas extolling the virtues of scientific management. If the language they employed seem familiar, it is because both Japanese and Chinese alike drew from the same well.

By the end of the nineteenth century the social sciences and disciplines like geography and agronomy connected Europe, the Americas, and Asia. The educated elite from around the world increasingly spoke a common language of science and the social sciences.

Early American influence shaped the colonization of Hokkaidō, but by the early twentieth century, Japanese writers were turning to other global examples and borrowing from the Germans the term “internal colonization.” The publication in 1904 of Kumao Takaoka’s work, Die innere Kolonisation Japans, in the social science series published by Gustav Schmoller and Max Sering explicitly connected Japan to the liberal circles of colonization advocates in Germany. Takaoka was the brother of the director of the colonial government in Hokkaidō, Naokichi Takaoka, to whom he dedicated his 1904 work. The extensive use of charts, census, and surveys in the work makes it an early example of the Japanese Empire’s reliance on social science methods to control its population and territory.

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