Global History Studies at Osaka University    

                                             Shigeru Akita
                         (Bulletin of Asia-Pacific Studies vol. XXII, pp.25-41. Excerpt)

  Osaka University is one of the key research universities in Japan, and the Graduate School ofLetters (Humanities) has received research funds under ‘21st Century Center for Excellence’ and ‘Global Center for Excellence’ programs of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). The Department of World History is the hub of global history studies in Japan as well as in Asia, and it hosted the First International Congress of the Asian Association of World Historians (AAWH) in May 2009. The Department is conducting four global history research projects: (1) Silk Road and Central Eurasian world history, (2) Maritime Asian history, (3) History of the Chinese Empire, and (4) World-System from Asian perspectives.

  The Asian History Section of the Department of World History at Osaka University has a longstanding tradition of archival research in a number of languages: Turkish, Mongol, Tibetan, Manchurian, and of course, Chinese, regarding ‘Inner’ Asia (now often called ‘Central Eurasia’). In the last two decades, the study of Asian Maritime history focusing on the  East  and  South  China  Seas,  and  partly  involving  researchers  from  the  Japanese  History  Major,  has  also  gained importance.  Under the influence of these two leading research groups, studies in Chinese and Japanese
histories, which are dominant in the historical discipline in Japan besides ‘Western History’, have shifted their regional investigative focus away from the conventional ‘East Asia’ perspective (essentially China, Korea and Japan) and towards a broader and more flexible  area  of  ‘Eastern  Eurasia’ including  maritime  regions. As  a  result,  polygonal  collaborations  among  scholars working  on  Central  Eurasia,  China,  Japan,  and  Maritime  Asia  (including  Southeast  Asia)  are  developing.  Valuable methodological and analytical connections could be established between
archival research and field surveys, and between perspectives on global relationships and the micro-analysis of local societies.

1.    Osaka University, Department of World History

  Osaka University is one of the key research universities in Japan, and the Graduate School of Letters (Humanities) has received research funds under ‘21st  Century Center for Excellence’ and ‘Global Center for Excellence’ programs of the

Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). The Department of World History is the hub of global history studies in Japan as well as in Asia, and it hosted the First International Congress of the Asian Association of World Historians (AAWH) in May 2009. The Department is conducting four global history research projects: (1) Silk Road and Central Eurasian world history, (2) Maritime Asian history, (3) History of the Chinese Empire, and (4) World- System from Asian perspectives.

  The Asian History Section of the Department of World History at Osaka University has a longstanding tradition of archival research in a number of languages: Turkish, Mongol, Tibetan, Manchurian, and of course, Chinese, regarding ‘Inner’ Asia (now often called ‘Central Eurasia’). In the last two decades, the study of Asian Maritime history focusing on the  East  and  South  China  Seas,  and  partly  involving  researchers  from  the  Japanese  History  Major,  has  also  gained importance.  Under the influence of these two leading research groups, studies in Chinese and Japanese
histories, which are dominant in the historical discipline in Japan besides  ‘Western History’, have shifted their regional investigative focus away from the conventional ‘East Asia’ perspective (essentially China, Korea and Japan) and towards a broader and more flexible  area  of  ‘Eastern  Eurasia’  including  maritime  regions. As  a  result,  polygonal  collaborations  among  scholars working  on  Central  Eurasia,  China,  Japan,  and  Maritime  Asia  (including  Southeast  Asia)  are  developing.  Valuable methodological and analytical connections could be established between archival research and field surveys, and between perspectives on global relationships and the
micro-analysis of local societies.

  The first project group is led by Masaharu Arakawa, Dai Matsui, and Emeritus Prof. Takao Moriyasu.  Arakawa is the leader of the research group on Central Eurasian history in the ancient and middle ages. His group founded the Society of Central Eurasian Studies (SCES) and holds three forums on Central Eurasian Studies every year. In addition, they publish an annual journal called Studies on the Inner Asian Languages, which covers a wide range of topics on Central Eurasian history, such as the Silk Road and nomads, Manicheism and Sogdian, Asian merchants and the ancient Chinese Empire, and the Mongolian Empire and globalisation. They may consider ‘proto-type’ globalisation in ancient Central Eurasia through the formation and demise of the Mongolian Empire and the role of Sogdianmerchants and nomads as part of ‘global nodes’ in the formation of transnational history.

  The second group is led by Shiro Momoki. He is the founder of a new field of study called ‘Asian Maritime
History’, and his group has founded the Society of Asian Maritime Studies, which regularly organises series of seminars and workshops. He has edited Kaiiki Ajiashi Kenkyu Nyumon [Introduction to Asian Maritime History], which is the first comprehensive introductory book on the subject and has been translated into Korean and Chinese. His group pays a great deal of attention to the early-modern maritime history in East Asia and Southeast Asia, and uses original vernacular Asian documents as well as VOC and EEIC (English East India Company) documents. Asian maritime history is closely related to the third topic, the history of the Chinese Empire and the development of tributary-trade system in the early- modern period. Kojiro Taguchi and Emeritus Prof. Tsuyoshi Katayama  lead this group which covers the time period from the early-modern period to the contemporary times, and mainly focuses on institutions and economic development from comparative perspectives. By combining the work of these two research groups, we can offer an alternative interpretation of ‘The Age  of Great Exploration of  the  Europeans’ from Asian perspectives and  present  the  historical importance  of regional trading networks and their implication for economic development in East Asia.

  The fourth project is related to the reconsideration of the historical origins of contemporary economic resurgence of  East Asia,  or  ‘the  East Asian Miracle’ (from  a  World  Bank  report),  led  by  myself.  My  main  research  topic  is  the ‘International Order of Asia in the 19th  and 20th  centuries’ and the reconsideration of ‘the East Asian Miracle’ from Asian perspectives. We may reveal close links and inter-connectedness between (a) the development and transformation of ‘intra- Asian trade’, (b) the emergence of ‘open-regionalism’ in Asia-Pacific, and (c) the formation of ‘developmental state’ and the progress of ‘developmentalism’ as the driving forces of economic resurgence of East Asia. Kotaro Nakano, who is majoring in  the  modern and contemporary history  of the US with special reference  to migration and the formation of multicultural  societies  from  comparative  perspectives,  will  cooperate  on  the  analysis  of  the  role  of  the  US  in  the development of modern and contemporary globalisation. This group aims at
investigating the modern and contemporary international economic order of Asia, through collaboration with scholars from Britain and the United States and with Asian scholars from Korea, China, and India. Relevant research areas include the role of hegemonic states in the transformation of the international order, the comparative study of empires from the ‘early-modern’ period to the twentieth century, and the study of the historical origins of ‘the East Asian miracle’.

  By drawing on the expertise of these three groups of researchers, Osaka University offers perspectives on a long historical period, from ancient to contemporary times. In doing so, it hopes to provide  new  and original insights  into world/global history from Asian perspectives.

2.    Division  of  Global  History,  Institute  for  Open  and  Transdisciplinary  Research  Initiatives  (OTRI),  Osaka University

  In October 2014, Osaka University, at the initiative of former President Prof. Toshio Hirano, established the Institute for Academic Initiatives (IAI). As the ninth division of the IAI, ‘global history’ became one of the four main research areas within this new organisational framework. Our division proposed to explore, among other topics, ‘global history’ from Asian perspectives through interdisciplinary research embracing a wide range of academic fields: history, international relations, economics, the arts and social sciences, and cultural studies. In addition, Osaka University could draw on a rich legacy in area studies and Asian studies which it had inherited from the Osaka University of Foreign Studies (integrated with Osaka University in October 2007).

  The  IAI  changed  its  name  to  the  Institute  for  Open  and Transdisciplinary  Research  Initiatives  (OTRI)   in October 2015, and  the  ninth  division  was  renamed  as  ‘the  Division of Global History’. The  division consists  of 16 Japanese members from 5 Graduate Schools (Graduate School of Letters, Graduate School of Law, Graduate School of Economics, Osaka School of International Public Policies and Graduate School of Language & Cultures) and 1 permanent foreign professor. In addition, we have a specially appointed Visiting Professor every year: Sun Laichen
(California State University, Fullerton: May-July 2016 and 2018); Liu Hong (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore: November 2017-January 2018); and George Souza (University of Texas, San Antonio: May-July 2019). By appointing these prominent Visiting Professors to collaborate with us, we are able to integrate global perspective into our research.

  The division has already established close collaborative relationships not only with several key Asian universities such  as  Ewha Womans  University  and Sogang  University  (Korea),  University   of  Beijing  and Beijing  Foreign studies University (China), Nanyang Technological University (Singapore), and Jawaharlal Nehru University (India), but also with University  of  Pittsburgh  (US), 
University  of  London—London  School  of  Economics  and  Kings College  (UK).  In addition to these bilateral collaborations, in April 2015,we also established a three-year international joint  research  program  on  global  history  with  five  prominent  universities (Oxford,  Leiden,  Konstanz,  Princeton,  and  Kolkata), in order to form a wider research network (consortium)  for global history studies.

  Furthermore,  we  intimately  cooperate  with  the  Asian  Association  of  World  Historians  (AAWH) ,  an international organisation for the promotion of global/world history studies in the Asia-Pacific region. The headquarters of
the AAWH are located at Osaka University, and I’m the President of the AAWH (2015-2021). Nowadays, as mentioned later in the paper, the collaboration with the AAWH has become the key, crucial, and indispensable activity of the global history division, and the AAWH occupies the central position in our attempts to build a platform for global history studies in Asia-Pacific. Osaka University aims to offer a ‘gateway’ to global history studies in Asia and to connect and introduce Japanese and other Asian scholars to global/world history academic research networks.

  In addition to these academic research activities, we are making a strong contribution to society by collaborating with senior high-school teachers and journalists  to  reform world history education in Japan and Asia. To this  end, we regularly hold monthly meetings (Osaka University History Education Project) and occasional international workshops. In the next two sections, let me briefly introduce our international collaborations and partly the contents & results of our researches, based on our two big events: Global History Consortium Workshop in 2016 and the Fourth AAWH Osaka Congress in 2019.
3.    Global History Workshop: ‘Globalisation from East Asian Perspectives’ (15th–17th March 2016)

  Osaka University intensively collaborated with Oxford Centre for Global History as part of a three-year joint research
project  on  ‘Global  Nodes,  Global  Orders’,  financially supported  by  the  Leverhulme   Foundation  with  other  three  key universities. The Oxford collaboration formed a ‘Global History Consortium’ and held six international workshops within three years. Osaka hosted the third workshop in mid-March 2016. In the Osaka workshop, we explored the unique features of globalisation in our region through discussing ‘Globalisation from East Asian Perspectives’ for three days.

  On the first day, ‘Early Globalisation in Eastern Eurasia and Maritime Asia: Networks, States, Commerce, and Religions’ dealt with Eastern Eurasia and its adjacent maritime regions in the firstand early second millennium. The first panel ‘The First Millennium CE’ covered the period prior to the tenth century. Various transnational interactions, networks, and migrations were examined within their ecological settings and against the background of often multipolar international relationships. The contributions of the participants revealed the existence of pluralistic systems of authority and legitimacy which differ from the Sino-centric view based on Confucianism.  Moreover, this panel provided evidence for the multi- ethnic composition of the Chinese Empire and the Sinic World from the Southern and Northern Dynasties to the Sui-Tang Period, rather than taking the view of the Chinese Empire as a monolithic empire of the Han people. Ethnic diversity was common among many peoples, including Central Eurasian nomadic and oasis peoples. The revisionist view of the Sinic World, in turn, requires a fundamental revision of the histories of the ‘smaller empires’ in contemporary Northeast Asia (present-day Northeast China, Korea, and Japan).

  Regarding human networks and migration, a close analysis of the eastward expansion of the Sogdian people was offered. The analysis not only emphasised their widely discussed commercial expansion but also advanced an argument about their military activities in alliance with Turkish nomadic powers. In relation to religious networks, not only Buddhist but Manichaeist networks were also examined by focusing on the role of both diplomacy and politics. As for questions regarding the state and its authority, a revision of the Tang-model of state formation in Japan was suggested.  In order to shed light on the influences of global interactions, a comparison between Central Eurasian oasis and maritime Asian port cities was also made based on ecological and social settings. Fascinating evidence on written sources and their formats, such as Dunhuang and Turfan documents, Tang epitaphs, diplomatic correspondence between East Eurasian monarchs, and Japanese and Korean wooden strips, was included in the papers on Central Eurasia, China, and Japan. The contributions on Maritime Asia, meanwhile, carefully incorporated knowledge from archaeology and area studies.

  The second panel ‘Early Second Millennium and the Mongol Empire’ covered the period from the tenth to the fourteenth century, and was based on sources in a range of languages, including Mongol, Turkish, Arabic, Sino-Vietnamese, Japanese, and Korean, in addition to evidence from archaeology and field surveys. First, the political and diplomatic history of  Eastern  Eurasia  prior  to  the thirteenth  century  was  examined  against  the  background  of  multipolar  international relationships  between large  empires  like  those of the  Khitans and the  Song, and other smaller ones. The  analysis  of diplomatic letters and ceremonies offered fresh insight. Second, commercial and human networks were examined using the  case  of  the  Muslim  diaspora  in  the  China  Seas. These  networks  often  left  traces  in  hybrid  cultural  identities  and international trade in which the Islands of Japan were involved. Third, the epoch-making characteristics of the Mongol Empire  were  discussed.  Here,  topics  included  the  analysis  of  polycentric  military,  political  and  social  systems,  and multilingual, though highly standardised, systems of communication. The discussions also paid due attention to the unique position and evolution of mid-sized agrarian states in the region, such as Japan, Goryeo (Korea), and Dai Viet (Vietnam). In conclusion, a general discussion on the ‘Fourteenth Century Crisis’ was held, and this discussion covered political and socio-economic  changes  but also incorporated hitherto neglected perspectives  on gender, family, and climatic  change, among others.

  Recent scholarship has made  an effort to incorporate Asian experiences  into a  ‘global’ history  of economic, political, military, cultural, and social dynamics by taking a long-term perspective. Nonetheless, the exchange of views between the experts of ‘global history’ and ‘local’ histories is still limited. Historians specialising in ‘the local’ hardly have the ambition to present their empirical studies in the context of ‘global’ issues. In turn, many historians of ‘the global’ rarely venture into archives and instead base their analyses on the in-depth research of regional specialists.
This is notably the case with the historiography of the continental and maritime world of Eastern Eurasia. Even after the ‘California School’ presented revisionist views challenging the Eurocentrism of studies on globalism, these studies continued to adhere to an analysis along the lines of an East-West binary.

  The second day of the Osaka workshop shed light on ‘Early-Modern Globalisation and East Asia’ and revealed how  daily lives  in this  region were  sustained, manipulated, and institutionalised under the  rule  of, or through mutual negotiation among polities of various sizes. Under the topic ‘empire-ness’, the contributors proposed a range of issues for discussion. Here, the term empire does not necessarily connote a despotic polity which is large in size, oppressive to its subjects, and prone to military expansionism. Rather, the concept was used heuristically, not typologically.  This enabled us to  better  understand  how  polities  tackled the  thorny  task  of establishing  or strengthening  their  regime  surrounded  by
linguistically and religiously diversified social groups.

  After the fourteenth century, when the gigantic Mongol Empire abandoned its territory in China proper, the Ming Empire set out to preside over the social order, physical distribution, and military control in a geographically vast territory. Importantly, there is evidence of such political behaviour in many polities, including Japan, Choson Korea, and Vietnam, especially during the seventeenth century when, as a consequence, the Manchu rulers prevailed in the fierce competition with their  rivals.  In short,  it  was  suggested that empire  was  an elastic  notion to describe  social cohesions, somewhat different in form from those within present nation-states. At the same time, one could also address issues, such as the relationship between global hegemony and nation-building. Only in this way can one make useful comparisons between polities, from a different perspective than that of self-contained nation-states. Empires were without exception confronted with  the  arcane  task  of  ‘incorporating’ diversified  social  groups  and  to  cope  with  an  increasingly  fluidizing  global environment, notably sustained by expanding trade and the in-flow of silver bullion. Thus, the historical world in the eastern part of Eurasia is understood as an arena where daily negotiations between, and the institutionalisation of diverse actors, including village headmen, tribal chiefs, officials, and even imperial households, were (and are) taking place intermingled. From this perspective, panel III ‘Big Games and Small Games in Early-Modern East Asia’ focused on the ‘macro-sphere’ of empires, namely politics,
diplomacy, foreign trade, governmental finance, and war-making. Panel IV ‘Daily Lives  and  the  Making  of  Early-Modern  Empires’  turned  to  ‘micro-level’ subjects,  including  the village community, agriculture, population behaviour, and famine relief.

  The third day of the workshop focused on ‘Modern and Contemporary Globalisation from East Asian Perspectives’. At the turn of the second millennium in 2000, new trends in global history research attracted attention, mainly focusing on the revaluation of Asia’s position in the world. Two studies gave a strong impetus to the debate: Angus Maddison’s The World Economy: a millennial perspective, and Kenneth Pomeranz’s provocative The Great Divergence—China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy. The publication of these two books led to the reconsideration of the ‘Early- Modern period’ or the ‘Long Eighteenth Century’ based on comparisons between Europe and Asia. On the third day, the panels discussed the focal shift in the world economy from the Transatlantic world to Asia-Pacific, which also requires the reconsideration  of  the  nineteenth  century  from  Asian  perspectives.  These  problems  were  addressed  in  panel  V ‘Reconsidering the Nineteenth Century: The Reassessment of ‘Agricultural Development’ in South and Southeast Asia in the Nineteenth Century from the Perspective of Global History’.

  At the first workshop of Global History Consortium at Princeton, the theme was the reconsideration of ‘the 1860s’
within  global  history. Traditionally,  the  nineteenth  century  has  been characterised  as  the  ‘European  century’,  or  the century of European-centred globalisation. It is no coincidence that E. J. Hobsbawm wrote three influential volumes on ‘the Long Nineteenth Century’. The Princeton workshop was heavily influenced by two important books on the nineteenth century: C. Bayly’s The Birth of the Modern World 1780-1914, and Jürgen Osterhammel’s The Transformation of the World: A Global History of the Nineteenth Century. Both books offer stimulating European interpretations of the nineteenth century, and it is a truism that Western Europe occupied a dominant position at the
core of the Modern World System. Nonetheless, Asian initiatives in economic development during the second half of the nineteenth century still need to be fully explored.

  Panel V reconsidered the historical significance of ‘agricultural development’ in Asia. In the second half of the nineteenth century, evidence suggests connections between increasing agricultural production in Asia, population growth, and  migrations  within  and  beyond  Asia.   These  phenomena  have  usually  been  interpreted  within  the  framework  of European-led economic globalisation or the incorporation of Asia into the world economy (Modern World System).  These interpretations take the perspective of Western colonial empires and an imperialistic world

  By contrast, recent studies  in global history in Japan have emphasised the evidence for Asian initiatives for economic development and the impact of indigenous agency. These studies stress the influence of the activities of Asian merchants (Indian & Chinese) and local peasants on the production of agricultural commodities, such as rice, sugar, and natural  rubber,  among  others.  The  panel  explored  the  dynamic  role  played  by  these  Asian  agencies  in  economic 'development’,  especially  in  ‘agricultural  development’,  and  their  significance  in   transforming  agrarian  societies  and patterns  of  land-holding  not  only in  former  colonies  such  as  British  India,  the  Dutch East-Indies  (Indonesia),  and Northern Vietnam (French Indochina) but also in Siam (Thailand). In order to facilitate comparisons, and to shed light on the peculiarities of tropical regions, a case study of the Russian Far East (Northeast Asia)  was also included.

  Finally, panel VI ‘Historical Origins of the ‘East Asian Economic Resurgence’ explored the historical origins of the current ‘East Asian economic resurgence’, or ‘the East Asian miracle’, as it was dubbed by the World Bank in 1993.
The driving force behind behind the economic resurgence of East Asia since the early 1980s was: (a) the revival and growth of ‘intra-Asian trade’ or  inter-regional trade within Asia in the 1970s; and (b) the emergence of state-led ‘developmentalism’ in East and Southeast Asia in the 1960s. ‘Developmentalism’ meant that industrialisation in Asia was fostered through national policies, namely the state-sponsored mobilisation and control of natural and human resources. These initiatives were closely connected to economic aid policies influenced by Cold War politics. Japan played a leading role in this process of  economic  resurgence  and  promoted  ‘intra-Asian  competition’  for  export-oriented  industrialisation.  The  role  of hegemonic states, first the UK (the British Empire) and then the US, in providing ‘international public goods’ to the world economy should be considered in this context. Arguably, many developing countries in East and Southeast Asia could utilise ‘Pax Britannica’ and ‘Pax Americana’ for their own economic development.

  This is a broad overview of the Osaka workshop of the Global History Consortium. After three days of intensive discussions, the Osaka research group was able to suggest the new historical concept of  ‘Eastern Eurasia’ as a mega- regional historical entity. This region encompasses not only the central and eastern parts of the Eurasian continent from the ancient ‘Silk Road’ to the Mongolian World Empire of the middle ages and its early modern successors, such as the Ming & Ching Dynasties of China (the Chinese Empire) and the Mughal Empire of the Indian subcontinent, but also the maritime world of Southeast Asia. Juxtaposed to this analysis were contributions by scholars from Oxford University, who offered interpretations of Europe as part of ‘Western Eurasia’. The mega-regional twin concepts of Eastern and Western Eurasia emphasise the need for further comparative and relational investigations of the Eurasian continent in the study of global history.  Important  aspects  of  these  collaborations  were  introduced  during  the  first  day  of  the  workshop,  focusing  on historical periods before the collapse of the Mongol Empire. In order to stimulate a wide-ranging discussion, the workshop did not confine itself to covering a single academic specialisation, such as Central Eurasia or the Sinic World. Rather, global analytical frameworks were introduced, including Victor Lieberman’s global comparisons with ‘charter states’ in Eurasia.

  With regard to vertical historical perspectives, the workshop addressed the ‘reconsideration of the nineteenth
century from Asian perspectives’. This discussion was based on new evidence on Asian economic development in the second  half  of  the  nineteenth  century,  notably  the  role  of  indigenous  Asian  merchants  and  small  peasants.  This reconsideration suggests a new periodisation of the modern and contemporary period which arguably has implications for debates about the rapid transformation of East Asian economies in the second half of the twentieth century, the so-called 'East Asian  Miracle’.  The  argument  will  help  account  for  the  shift  of  global  economy’s  centre  of  gravity  from  the Transatlantic economy to the emerging Asia-Pacific economy.

  This workshop enabled us to reflect on latest global history studies, more specifically the history of globalisation, from hitherto unexplored perspectives, by drawing on an international academic network. To relativize this Western-centred Consortium network centred on the Oxford Centre for Global History, we could fully utilise the Asian Association of World Historians (AAWH), our own academic network in the Asia-Pacific region. We would like to continue to play a leading role in the advancement of global history studies from Asian perspectives, and to promote the study in cooperation with colleagues from Asia.

4.    The Fourth AAWH Osaka Conference on ‘Creating World Histories from Asian Perspectives’ (5th & 6th January 2019)

  As I have already mentioned, in October 2015, the ninth division of IAI was renamed as ‘Division of Global History’, the Institute for Open and Transdisciplinary Research Initiatives (OTRI). Since then, we have been pursuing one of the eight main research subjects within this new organisational framework. In order to explore and create new historical perspectives, we can draw on rich academic achievements of Osaka University of Foreign Studies (integrated with Osaka University in October 2007) in area studies and Asian studies.

  On  4  May  2008,  a  new  international  organisation  for  world  history  called  the  ‘Asian Association  of World Historians’ (AAWH) was founded in China at Nankai University, Tianjin. The purpose of the association is to advance research, teaching, and public discussion on large-scale historical studies in and for the Asia-Pacific region. The AAWH usually holds its international congress every three years. The first congress was held in May 2009 in Osaka, and the theme was 'World History Studies and World History Education’. The congress was expected to contribute to the following three goals:(1) to promote dialogue among world/global historians in Asia-Pacific; (2) to develop concepts and programmes of world/global history studies from Asian perspectives; and (3) to build a better relationship between world history studies and  world  history  education  in   senior  high  schools.  It  is  worth  mentioning  that  since  its  foundation,  the AAWH  has emphasised an intimate cooperation between academic historians and history teachers in secondary schools as a vital link with and important social contribution to our society.
  The second AAWH congress was held in late April 2012 at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, Korea, and the theme was ‘Global Exchange Networks of Asia & Alternative Modernities in Asia’. Further, the third congress was held in May 2015 at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and its theme was  ‘Migration in Global History: Peoples, Plants, Plagues, and Ports’. The fourth congress was originally planned to be held in China in July 2018. However, due to political reasons, the fourth congress was forced to cancel just one-month before, and Osaka University finally agreed to have an emergency congress in early January 2019 by fully utilising its established academic networks as the gateway to global history studies in Asia-Pacific.  Since  its  establishment  in  Tianjin/Osaka  ten  years  ago,  the AAWH  has  continued  to  explore  new  interpretations  of world/global  histories  from Asian  perspectives. At present,  'the  concepts  and  methods  of  world/global  history  differ considerably from country to country in this region’ (from AAWH Charter). The AAWH still needs more time to present a grand alternative vision or interpretation of world/global history from Asian perspectives. However, we have now decided to explore and present new interpretations based on transregional or transnational frameworks. We hope to accomplish this by combining a vertical historical perspective of the longue-durée from the ancient to the contemporary period with a horizontal  analysis  encompassing  a  range  of  specific  regional  studies,  such  as  ‘Creating  World  Histories  from  Asian Perspectives’, which are beyond the purview of national histories.

  At the 2019 conference, we set three plenary lectures by distinguished Asian historians to present our distinctive interpretations of world/global history from Asian perspectives.

  The first keynote speaker was Prof. Li Bozhong, a well- known global & Chinese economic historian.  He presented to us his analysis of Central and Eastern Eurasian history, ‘1524: The End of the Silk Road? --- A Critical Reaction to the Hot Discussion of the Concept throughout China’, based on global economic history studies. It was as follows:

  In  1524,  the  imperial  court  of  the  Ming  made  a  decision:  to  relocate  seven  frontier   garrisons  in  the  country’s northwest border areas from their original stations outside Jiayu Pass at the western end of the Great Wall to their new  stations  within the  pass. Though this  decision  and  its  implementation hasn’t  received  much attention  from historians, it is an event of far reaching significance in world history: It marked the closing of the Silk Road which stretched across Eurasia and was seen as a ‘great channel for international trade’ by many scholars.

  In terms of trade volume and size, the Silk Road was not as important as is usually believed. One of the main obstacles  to  the  expansion  of  the  trade  was  the  unendurably  high  cost  of  trade,  which  resulted  from  not  just extremely poor transportation, but also from extremely dangerous circumstances caused by political instability in this  area.  Second,  the  trade  was 
highly  unbalanced:  China’s  exports  dwarfed  its  imports  and  made  the  trade unbalanced. Third, the trade was mainly conducted for and political purposes and the Chinese state was in charge of it. As  a  result, the  size  and frequency depended on  the  policies  of the  Chinese  state.  Moreover, during the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, two great changes happened: climate change and the rise of the maritime trade. Both of them, in particular the  latter, had a significant effect on the Silk Road  trade and accelerated  its decline.

  His lecture clearly pointed out the turning point for ‘Silk Road’ as a trade and communication route between the East and the West, and its multifaceted reasons: economic, military (strategic), and environmental. Especially, the factor of climate change, revealed with the development of environmental history, is worth mentioning in the context of global/world history studies. Further, his lecture is closely related to Central Eurasian History and the Chinese Empire, a research area in which Osaka University has a strong base/foundation.

  The second plenary was delivered by Prof. Aditya Mukherjee, a key economic historian at Jawaharlal Nehru University in India. His topic was ‘The Transformation of the Indian Economy in the Contemporary Period: From the Colonial to the Post-Colonial’, and he examined modern/contemporary development of world economy and globalisation from the perspectives of the ‘Global South’.

  Mukherjee  criticised  both  the  neo-colonial  interpretation  that  colonialism  led to  economic development and prepared the ground for the rapid post-colonial development, seen in India in recent years, and the orthodox Left view, which denies the possibility of any transition to independent development in a colony even after independence unless the colonial economy ‘shoots out’ of the capitalist world system into socialism. He provided contrasting data for colonial and post-colonial development in India, suggesting that it is the break rather than the continuity with colonialism which made the economic development possible. In addition, the post-colonial development in India also belied the orthodox Left view that the country was heading towards further neo-colonial or dependent development rather than independent development, because  India   remained within  the  world capitalist system. While  the  post-colonial  situation  in the country  definitely marked a significant break with colonialism in the economic sphere, the continuities with colonialism remain in the area of social divisions promoted during the colonial period, and in the persistence of the colonial mindset, particularly in the intellectual domain.  Mukherjee’s lecture offered us the opportunity to rethink the academic premises of Asian historians, who  normally  take  for  granted  the  validity  of  European  ideas  and  concepts  on  ‘development’ and  ‘capitalism’.  His stimulating presentation reminds us of his interesting essay ‘India and the World Economy in the Nineteenth Century’, a reconsideration of the nineteenth century from the ‘Global South’.

  The third plenary-lecture, ‘Japan’s Meiji Revolution in Global History: Searching for some generalisations out of
history’, was made by Emeritus Prof. Hiroshi Mitani, the University of Tokyo, one of the leading scholars in Japanese modern history.    He reconsidered the historical significance of the Meiji Revolution after the 150th anniversary as follows:

  The Meiji Revolution was one of the major revolutions in the nineteenth century, and occurred in the state with the fifth-largest population in the world at that time. It dissolved the samurai
aristocracy of the early modern Japan and sparked  incessant  efforts  for  social  reforms.  Yet,  the  Meiji  Revolution  has  been  almost  invisible  in  the historiography of modern revolutions.  This is because the revolution was different from the model of revolution prevalent during the twentieth century: under that model, revolutions must overthrow the monarchy and feature the
intentional use of violence and propaganda. In the Meiji Revolution, Japan’s monarchy was actually strengthened by the consolidation of double kingship under a single imperial throne, while the death toll was small, around 30,000, much lower than that of other major world revolutions such as the French Revolution.  These differences make the Meiji Revolution useful in widening the concept of revolution. In order to fight social injustice, people are not necessarily obliged to overthrow a monarchy, nor must they resort to large-scale violence. Reframing the Meiji Revolution in global context will give us an opportunity to search for and perhaps identify the methods for achieving radical reforms without resorting to widespread sacrifice.

  He  presented  to us  several issues  for  a  global comparative  analysis  of revolutions   utilising the  Meiji Revolution as  a touchstone. The first concerned initial conditions for a revolution. In the nineteenth century, Japan saw the rise of a new emperor-centred view which considered the Kyoto emperor above the Edo-based Shogunate. Once the Shogunate failed to resist Western pressure to open Japan for trade, people promptly shifted their loyalties to the Kyoto Emperor, and expected him to be more effective in dealing with Western demands.

  The second issue was the role of kingship in revolutions. The Kyoto emperor and his court nobles had little power except for their symbolic status. The third issue was the self-image of the country in the world. Most Japanese continued to place Japan on the periphery of Chinese and Indian civilisations. It was consequently easier for the Japanese to pay attention to the power shift caused by the West during the first half of the nineteenth century. This offered intellectuals a strong motivation to start reforms for national defence. The fourth issue was the death toll during the revolution. The fifth and final issue was how the public sphere separated itself from violence.  For the success of a revolution, politicians must abandon violence at some stage. He argued how new regimes could separate themselves from the use of violence.

  Mitani’s lecture was based on his accumulated empirical research on the Meiji Revolution and his strong efforts to locate modern Japanese history in the context of world history in the nineteenth century. Further, his analyses involve a
typical ‘bilateral comparison’ of global history studies, partly proposed by leading ‘California School’ historians such as Roy Bing Wong and Kenneth Pomeranz. Through these studies involving bilateral comparison, we can relativize the core concept of ‘revolutions’ in global context and clearly reconsider historical significance of the French Revolution and its impacts & legacies in world history.

  Following these key-note lectures, seventeen big panels on a wide range of topics and thirty private papers were presented at the congress. By drawing on the expertise of our participants and based on transregional frameworks, the AAWH  Osaka  congress  explored  perspectives  on  a  long  historical  period,  from  ancient  to  contemporary  times  They provided new and original insights into world and global histories from Asian perspectives. In addition, we tried to make a  strong  contribution  to  Japanese  society  by  collaborating  with  senior  high-school  teachers
and  journalists.  This collaboration  aimed  at  reforming  world  history  education  in Japan  through  the  publication of  school textbooks. Such collaboration with prominent senior-high school teachers might be the best example of outreach activities by historians to emphasise the social usefulness of their studies.