The colonial experience of the uncolonized and the colonized: The case of East Asia, Mainly as seen from Japan

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Colonial and postcolonial experiences vary along with the historical positionality of those who think, remember, imagine, talk, and write about them varies. For those who live in East Asia, this fact is felt with special poignancy. China was subjected to colonial interventions and partial colonization by major Western colonizing nations of the 19th century, such as Britain and France, and later by Japan. Korea was colonized and annexed by Japan; it (then the Korean Empire) became a protectorate of Japan in 1905, and the Japan-Korea annexation treaty (1910), whose legality is still disputed, allowed Japan to incorporate Korea into its sovereign domain (1945). Japan began modernizing itself in reaction to the Western colonial expansion to East Asia. The process was set in motion by the shock of the Opium War in which the Qing (Ch’ing) Dynasty was defeated by Britain (1840-1842). Japan’s rapid modernization took the form of abolishing the Edo feudal regime1 and adopting outright major attributes of the modern nation-state, such as the constitution-based system of governance, conscription, industrialization, mass education, and on the like. The ensuing drive to create a homogeneous and unified nation led Japan to construct a unique ideological concept, the concept of the national-body (see below), and resulted in the forcible assimilation of minority groups such as the Ainu (Mizoguchi 2006: 65-71), who today are still suffering from having no significant say in the way their history is written (though the situation is gradually changing). The different ways in which those countries became incorporated into the colonial world order determined the way modern archaeology was introduced and developed in each country.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Postcolonial Archaeology
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781315427683
ISBN (Print)9781598741827
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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