Borders of memory: affirmation and contestation over Japan’s heritage

Edward Boyle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


This essay, introducing the special issue on ‘Borders of Memory’, aims to shed light on the links between memory and heritage in contemporary Japan. It does so by examining how heritage sites serve as spaces within which collective memory is both affirmed and contested. Heritage sites enable us to survey the contours of the borders of memory that exist between different memory collectives. An analysis of South Korean and Chinese objections to the Meiji Industrial Sites shows how these heritage sites work as borders of memory, spaces where the competing collective memories of neighbouring East Asian governments and societies clash and rub up against one another. This analysis is then extended to the four articles that make up this special issue. In each case, it is the competing meanings invested in the site, and the struggle over the narrative within which it is incorporated, that results in such sites coming to be demarcated as borders of memory. Understanding these heritage sites as bordered spaces allows us to see such them as being not only where antagonistic collective memories come into contact, but also spaces through which they connect. The existence of such spaces enables the political process of articulating the stories associated with different memory collectives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-312
Number of pages20
JournalJapan Forum
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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