Tobunken Symposium "Beyond Established Categories in World Historical Studies"

This symposium focuses on one of the most foundational attributes in historical studies: categories. Born of the need to classify subjects of inquiries, categories enable historians to label the unfamiliar and place it within the known universe. Yet this seemingly helpful condition has also created a gridlock in the construction of modern knowledge, for historians can only operate within the matrix established by those categories’ parameters. Inquiries that do not fit within the preexisting systems are either treated as unintelligible or left unexplored.

Would there be a way to escape this order of things that has long governed our ways of learning about the past? Four papers address this inquiry from four different perspectives. Birgit Tremml investigates the creation of the generic term "Europe" in sixteenth-century cross-cultural communication. Vimalin Rujivacharakul then shows a study of how the very same category of “Europe” had been re-created in eighteenth-century China but was subsequently re-labeled as “the Orient.” Meanwhile, Goto Emi revisits the historical backgrounds of “Islamism” as a category and proposes a new way to look at this religious-politico condition. Ukai Atsuko pieces everything together by offering a possibility to turn a comparative study into a transnational narrative.

Date: July 24, 2013 (Wed) 16:00-18:30

Venue: Main conference room, 3rd floor, Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (Tobunken), The University of Tokyo

Paper 1: From Comparative Study to Transnational Art History
Ukai Atsuko
Paper 2: The Making of Europe in 16th century East Asia
Birgit Tremml
Paper 3: When "China\'s West" became "Europe\'s Orient"
Vimalin Rujivacharakul
Paper 4: “Islamism” Revisited
Goto Emi
  General Discussion

No entry is requested.
Contact: UKAI, Atsuko (atsukoukai[at]

Organizer: HANEDA,Masashi