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2015 events

Confronting the History Problem in Northeast Asia

East Asian flags by, via under Creative Commons Attribution Licence 

Research seminar with Professor Barry Buzan, London School of Economics

4-6pm, Wednesday 21 January 2015

Room S-1.04, Strand Building, Strand Campus, King's College London

**All welcome**


This paper provides an alternative approach to addressing the history problem between China and Japan. Its method is to construct a historical overview of Northeast Asia (NEA) that integrates the local histories with the collective global one, and provides a common normative platform for assessing who did what since 1840. It aims to open a debate within the region about the history problem by challenging the prevailing politics of blame and recrimination against others in two ways. First, the historical overview is constructed as a kind of balance sheet into which the particular disputes at the centre of the history problem can be placed into a wider context of both world historical developments and systematic normative judgment. Second, in the context of this balance sheet, all the peoples concerned are invited not just to look critically at themselves as well as at others, but also to be aware of the positive contributions that others, as well as themselves, have made to the modern history of the region. The global history framework aims to put Northeast Asian history into shared context and show how while NEA has largely solved the big history problem of its dual encounter with the West and modernity, it has failed to solve the small, local history problem generated by that dual encounter. The normative framework for assessment aims to be broadly acceptable to the peoples in NEA and consists of five goals: ridding Asia of Western imperialism/hegemony; restoring the wealth and power of Asian states and societies; restoring respect for Asian nations and their rightful place in international society; promoting respectful relationships with their neighbours on the basis of sovereign and racial equality; and promoting the broadly Confucian ideal of an orderly, peaceful and harmonious domestic society. The paper argues that when NEA’s history is seen through these lenses, there are no obvious heroes or villains. Instead there is a complex and densely connected joint story in which both countries (and also the West and Korea) have mixed records, making positive contributions in some ways and negative ones in others. NEA’s shared story in its dual encounter is much more important than the stories of the individual countries. Perhaps not surprisingly, placing the local histories into the larger picture of the global transformation exposes many profound similarities between the structural positions and trajectories of Japan and China. These similarities might provide a foundation on which the two countries could begin to build a solution to their history problem, and so open the path towards the peaceful and stable region they both say they want.

About the speaker

Barry Buzan is Emeritus Professor of International Relations at the LSE (formerly Montague Burton Professor), honorary professor at Copenhagen and Jilin Universities, and a Senior Fellow at LSE Ideas. From 1988 to 2002 he was Project Director at the Copenhagen Peace Research Institute (COPRI). From 1995 to 2002 he was research Professor of International Studies at the University of Westminster, and before that Professor of International Studies at the University of Warwick. During 1993 he was visiting professor at the International University of Japan, and in 1997-8 he was Olof Palme Visiting Professor in Sweden.  He was Chairman of the British International Studies Association 1988-90, Vice-President of the (North American) International Studies Association 1993-4, and founding Secretary of the International Studies Coordinating Committee 1994-8. From 1999-2011 he was general coordinator of a project to reconvene the English school of International Relations, and from 2004-8 he was editor of the European Journal of International Relations. He took his first degree at the University of British Columbia (1968), and his doctorate at the London School of Economics (1973).  In 1998 he was elected a fellow of the British Academy, and in 2001 he was elected as an Academician of the Association of Learned Societies in the Social Sciences. He has written, co-authored or edited over twenty-five books, written or co-authored more than one hundred and thirty articles and chapters, and lectured, broadcast or presented papers in over twenty countries. In addition to theory, he has engaged in the public policy debates about security in Europe, South Asia, Southern Africa and East Asia. His current research interests focus on:

1) International society, and the English school approach to International Relations;

2) International history and International Relations;

3) China and international society

Recent books include: Seabed Politics (1976); People, States and Fear: The National Security Problem in International Relations  (1983, revised 2nd edn. 1991); South Asian Insecurity and the Great Powers  (1986, with Gowher Rizvi and others);  An Introduction to Strategic Studies: Military Technology and International Relations (1987); The European Security Order Recast: Scenarios for the Post-Cold-War Era (1990, with Morten Kelstrup, Pierre Lemaitre, Elzbieta Tromer and Ole Wæver);The Logic of Anarchy : Neorealism to Structural Realism (1993, with Charles Jones and Richard Little); The Mind Map Book (1993, with Tony Buzan); Identity, Migration, and the New Security Agenda in Europe (1993, with Morten Kelstrup, Pierre Lemaitre, Ole Wæver, et al.); Security: A New Framework for Analysis (1998, with Ole Wæver and Jaap de Wilde); Anticipating the Future (1998, with Gerald Segal); The Arms Dynamic in World Politics (1998, with Eric Herring); International Systems in World History: Remaking the Study of International Relations (2000, with Richard Little); Regions and Powers: The Structure of International Security (2003, with Ole Wæver); From International to World Society? English School Theory and the Social Structure of Globalisation (2004); Does China Matter? (2004, co-edited with Rosemary Foot); The United States and the Great Powers: World Politics in the Twenty-First Century (2004); co-edited with Ana Gonzalez-Pelaez, International Society and the Middle East: English School Theory at the Regional Level, (2009); with Lene Hansen, The Evolution of International Security Studies (2009); co-edited with Amitav Acharya, Non-Western International Relations Theory (2010). Work in press includes: co-edited with Yongjin Zhang, Contesting International Society in East Asia (2014); An Introduction to the English School of International Relations: The Societal Approach (2014); and, with George Lawson, The Global Transformation: History, Modernity and the Making of International Relations (2015).

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