AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 528

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Session 528: Exploring Temporal, Cultural, and Territorial Boundaries through Science

Organizer: Yuehtsen Juliette Chung, National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan (R.O.C.)

Chair: Sumiko Otsubo, Metropolitan State University, USA

Discussant: Joseph C. Wicentowski, U. S. Department of State, USA

This panel investigates various aspects of science in East Asia. Hiromi Mizuno examines the “liberal science education movement” launched when World War I compelled Japan to nationalize scientific production and research. Mizuno finds the movement’s continuity between interwar and the wartime years, which rejects simple periodization separating the “Taisho democracy” from wartime totalitarianism. Pei-ying Chen’s close reading of China’s popular scientific journal, Kexue Huabao, established in 1933, reveals the divergence between the officially promoted elite science and its alternative utilizing C.P. Snow’s concept, “two cultures.” Sumiko Otsubo analyzes the Japanese Army’s medical records kept during the Siberian Intervention in order to trace how the 1918 second wave of the Spanish Influenza pandemic spread in eastern Siberia and surrounding Manchuria, Korea, and Japan, where national borders were fluid because of revolutions, civil wars, and colonialism. She identifies an important route of the flu transmission through the transnational railroad network and military mobilization from inland to the east coast of Asia. Chung’s study is concerned with Japan’s curious escape from the 1919 Cholera epidemic, which devastated many cities and regions in East Asia, including Japan’s colonies Taiwan and Korea. Comparing varying degrees of effectiveness in preventive medical measures within and beyond the Japanese empire, she argues that Japan proper’s success had much to do with its quarantine experience segregating the Japanese from the local population during Japan’s occupation of Qingdao, taken over from Germany during WWI. This panel, thus, complicates temporal, cultural and territorial boundaries in East Asia.

Liberalism and Science Education in Taisho Japan
Hiromi Mizuno, University of Minnesota, USA

WWI had an immense impact on the promotion of science education in Japan. The wartime halt imposed on imported goods and materials from Europe posed a serious challenge to Japan that had heavily relied on precision machines, pharmaceutical supplies and many other things from Germany and other European countries. As a response, the Japanese government undertook a major promotion of domestic production of science and technology, establishing the infrastructure of scientific research that became the foundation of present-day Japan. One aspect of this that has been understudied is the "liberal science education movement" among renowned educators and independent scholars. A part of the larger Taisho liberal education movement, the science education movement led to innovative science curriculums in the 1920s and ultimately to a radical revision of the school textbooks in the early 1940s. This paper examines how Taisho science education activists interacted with educators in Europe and the US and discusses the complicated and conflicting meaning of "liberalism" in Taisho Japan.

Popular Science and Science Popularization: Producing Science and Technical Livelihood in Kexue Huabao (Popular Science)
Pei-ying Chen, National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan (R.O.C.)

One of the most long-lived scientific periodicals, Kexue Huabao (Popular Science) , was established by the Science Society of China in 1933. Different from scientific fantasy depicted in the Late Qing literature, Kexue Huabao carried pictures, and reported applied science and innovative devices adapted from American journals such as Popular Science and Popular Mechanics. This periodical was targeted at the readership of the general public and the enterprising business world. Its regular editorial forum incited heated debates and public discussion of scientific issues such as chemical warfare and imitated craft. Historically, this periodical provides a rich source to investigate how and what kind of science has been disseminated other than the Nationalist Party’s ideology of science during the period of Popularization of Science Movement in China. This investigation also tests the hypothesis of C. P. Snow’s “two cultures”, as the periodical brought together science and literacy, technical livelihood and political free expression, the elite culture and popular consumption.

Fighting on Two Fronts: Japan's Involvement in the Siberian Intervention and the Spanish Influenza Pandemic of 1918
Sumiko Otsubo, Metropolitan State University, USA

In the spring of 1918 when the Great War was about to close, the Spanish Influenza was said to have broken out in the U.S. Unlike the spring epidemic, the fall wave, which first appeared in August, was highly lethal and quickly swept through many parts of the world. By spring 1920, it had killed about 40,000,000 people, four times as many as the war itself did. It is estimated that as many as 450,000 individuals fell victim to this disease in Japan. It was also in August 1918 that Japan began sending over 70,000 troops to Siberia from Japan proper and also from its base in Manchuria as part of the Allied effort to support White Russians against the Bolshevik revolution. Although the fatal fall wave of the Spanish Influenza coincided with this mass mobilization by the Japanese Imperial Army, little is known about its role in the spread of the flu pandemic in eastern Eurasia. Examining a geographically transnational document—a medical history of the Siberian Intervention compiled by the Japanese army—this paper analyzes the pandemic transmission in northeastern Asia when and where national boundaries were unstable and thereby systematic national and local statistics and records were scarcely taken. This study challenges the notion that the Spanish flu in the Asian continent was largely an affair of its eastern ports and cities because limited population mobility kept the interior unaffected by the pandemic.

Sovereignty and Imperial Hygiene: Japan and the 1919 Cholera Epidemic in East Asia
Yuehtsen Juliette Chung, National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan (R.O.C.)

The outbreak of the Cholera epidemic in 1919 rampaged most of East Asian region such as Taiwan, Korea, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Manchuria. Compared to these areas, Japan, however, was able to minimize the number of patients and deaths in the archipelagos during this outbreak. Such success was derived from the wartime experience of comprehensive quarantine and segregation of water and food sources between the Japanese and the local population when Japan was occupying Qingdao. In comparison, the Chinese were unable to ward off the dissemination of cholera since Chinese quarantine regulations only targeted commercial ships and did not apply to the Junk trade, which unintentionally turned junks into free carriers of the infectious pathogen among Chinese coastal cities, and between North China and Korea. This paper explores the different approaches to disease preventive measures in the region. It also examines the coalition and the competition between the Japanese quarantine regime and the regional quarantine services, which were shaped by the development of the Cholera epidemic.