Asian and Transcultural Studies: The Next Generation

Project abstract:

This working group combines the recent innovations in Global History pioneered at the partner universities of Osaka and Göttingen with the classical strengths of Asian and Transcultural History at the universities of Heidelberg, Kyoto and Tohoku. The aim of this pilot project is to position the HeKKsaGOn alliance as the leader in Global and Transcultural History both in Asia and in Europe. Thus to push for more connected and comparative forms of historical narratives than are currently once again being told in public as the disconnected histories of isolated and competitive nation-states and their very distinctive cultures. The focus will be on times of ruptures and disjunctions when tectonic shifts occurred or appeared to be happening leading to local, regional and global crises. These moments may at their times seem ephemeral and not leading to significant turning points but then often create enduring instabilities or chaotic circumstances that are as much in need of explanations as the conventional master narrative of the rise and fall of nation-states. What is crucial to this project is the desire not to preach to the converted area studies specialists but include those colleagues who are being defined as mainstream disciplinary historians in their relative regional institutional settings such the historians of the Western World in Europe and the historians of Japan in Japan. We will also strive for a lively inter-generational dialogue as much as we will insist on hearing multiple international voices in writing history to understand better the complexity of what was and why this history still matters for today. Francis Fukuyama once famously postulated the end of history. It is the contention of this working group that history is not over yet and we still need to be able to distinguish historical facts from multiple fictions to make sense of our world in past and present as a joined universe.

Lead coordinator: 

Name: Akita, Shigeru
Position: Professor of History
Institution: Osaka University
Department, Faculty: Head of Department of World History, Graduate School of Letters 

Other coordinator(s):

Name: Fuess, Harald
Position: Professor of History
Institution: Heidelberg University
Department, Faculty: Director of Heidelberg Center for Transcultural Studies, Faculty of
Philosophy