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The IAJS Thematic Conference 2018:

The West in Japanese Imagination / Japan in Western Imagination: 150 Years to the Meiji Restoration.

· Conference,Japanese Studies,Meiji Period,Visual Culture,Israel

The Israeli Association for Japanese Studies’ Thematic Conference 2018 was hosted at Tel Aviv University from December 18th to 20th, 2018 in Tel Aviv, Israel. It celebrated 150 years since the Meiji Restoration of 1868, and focused on the changes Japan has undergone since that time.

The conference focused on the Meiji era as a turning point in Japan’s history, and created an outline for a retrospective on the artistic, cultural, historical, social, economic and political developments in Japan, while expanding the discussion on what is Japan’s role in Western imagination at the same time.

80 scholars presented on their research in the arts, social, political and cultural developments. these various fields over 3 days, from December 18th to the 20th. It was an engrossing experience. For me it was a real treat to be immersed in the historiography of the Meiji period directly from the researchers breaking new ground. There were a great deal of fascinating panels. I was particularly interested in the ones on military, artistic and photographic developments. One of the most wonderful outcomes was making new friends with some like-minded researchers, and discuss our interests in depth.

I was thrilled to have been invited to present my research on the Royal Ontario Museum’s Margaret MacLean Orihon Scrap Book chronicle of the Russo-Japanese War. I was part of a panel featuring Mark Caprio from Rikkyo University, Aurore Yamagata-Montoya from the Mutual Images Research Association (France) and Giuliani Antonio Bertelli from Osaka University. It was great to talk about the visual culture in MacLean’s orihon scrapbook, and how it intersected with the various themes on representation, propaganda, photographic history, and the theme of Japan in Western Imagination in other panels and presentations.

My presentation was well-received, and to my great relief, it really just flew by! I was very happy to see there was much interest in MacLean and her scrap book, evidenced by the great many deal of questions. That felt incredible!. The presentations were followed up by a discussion and Q&A with my fellow presenters and the audience.

There were so many presentations at other panels that I really enjoyed, and I want to write about them all! It was quite the experience being surrounded by so many brilliant scholars from around the world, and learn about all the exciting research they’re engaged in at their universities, institutes and research associations. It was really inspiring to say the least, and I’m thinking about doing a little project myself, but more on that later!

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