Transnational Memory

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Research Projects

Transnational Memory

Is history "retreating" in East Asia? Or is it "repeating" itself? Why does East Asia as a historical unit keep reverting to the strictures of the past despite every political regime change being declared to be an irreversible progress? Why do thoughts on boundaries, for all their intellectual experiments of transgression and deviation, in reality, end up finding themselves within the political parameters of a nation-state every time?

In a bid to address these issues, the Memory Regime Change project focuses on "memory regime," rather than political regime. It is because memory of the past functions as a distinct long-term system unceasingly nullifying political processes. As indicated in the past history, any strategy aimed at political changes with memory regime left intact has already proven a failure. It is, therefore, necessary to think of memory regime as a structure in which joints pivotal to linking history in its entirety are made to stand out.

This project seeks to conduct from a transitional perspective critical investigations of multifarious layers and aspects of memory regime such as official memory managed by each nation-state and vernacular memory reproduced in everyday lives of ordinary people. In particular, it pays attention to the point that the "nationalization of people," a process occurring in the realm of memory, widely regulates the ordinary, quotidian experiences of people.

For these reasons, the project intends to call into question the whole gamut of cultural activities and their creations playing a key part in producing, maintaining, and reproducing memory regime – such as films, historical novels, TV dramas, museums, art galleries, manga, Internet blogs, and games, let alone writings by historians and history textbooks. By scrutinizing the production organization, distribution and consumption pattern of collective memory, the project proposes that those concerned about memory regime changes in East Asia, whether they be historians, literary theoreticians, or film critics, should realize, albeit belatedly, they all are "memory activists" who go beyond the confines of their conventional and occupational identities.

In relation to the project, the "International Symposium on Memory Regime Changes in East Asia and Memory and Memory Activist" was held in Waseda University, Japan, on February 4-5, 2016.