Using diverse sources well beyond the colonial archive such as photographs, postcards, and even headstones, Dr. Kirsten L. Ziomek
reveals the stories of colonial subjects in the Japanese empire in Lost Histories: Recovering the Lives of Japan’s Colonial Peoples
(Harvard Asia Center, 2019). The book focuses on four groups of colonial subjects in the Japanese empire from the early 1900s to the 1970s, namely, the indigenous people of Taiwan, Micronesians, the Ainu of Hokkaido, and Okinawans. Challenging conventional narratives of Japan’s colonial history that often centered on sites of dominance and oppression, Lost Histories
“reverse engineers” these narratives to focuses on the experiences of Japan’s colonial subjects, which reflected local power structures and provide different understandings of the empire. Through these varied perspectives of the colonial experiences reconstructed from materials within and beyond the colonial archives, Dr. Ziomek argues that Japan actually depended on its colonial subjects to enact its rule, and ethnoracial differences among colonial subjects were used to the advantage of both colonial administrations and colonial subjects.
Daigengna Duoer is a PhD student at the Religious Studies Department, University of California, Santa Barbara. Her dissertation researches on transnational/transregional networks of Buddhism centered in twentieth-century Inner Mongolia and Manchuria that connected to Republican China, Tibet, and imperial Japan.