Title: The Samurai – Myth and Reality by Sven Saaler
Guest Speaker: Sven Saaler
Date: September 14, Wednesday Time: 10:00 to 12:00
Venue: Online via Zoom
Fee: Volunteer donation Guest fee: Free
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Reservations: by noon September 12, 2022
Most people today think of samurai as loyal and honorable defenders of the social order in medieval and early modern Japan. However, as Professor Sven Saaler will explain, that is not an accurate portrayal of the samurai but an image created by later generations to suit the particular social and political objectives of their times.
After some remarks about the factors shaping historical perceptions, Professor Saaler will examine how imagery of the samurai has evolved over time. Blurring the line between history and fiction, stories about the samurai and the “way of the warrior” (bushido), though fascinating for successive generations, have been constantly revised and adapted to the needs of an ever-changing society. Today, in a country that understands itself as a “peace state” (heiwa kokka), the perception of samurai history is entirely different from that during World War II.
Sven Saaler is Professor of Modern Japanese History at Sophia University. After earning a Ph.D. in Japanese Studies and history from Bonn University, he was a lecturer at Marburg University (1999-2000), Head of the Humanities Section of the GermanInstitute for Japanese Studies (DIJ) (2000-2004) and Associate Professor at The University of Tokyo (2004-2008). He has also held visiting teaching and research positions at Bonn University, Heidelberg University, Yamaguchi University and Kyushu University. He is a member of the editorial board of The Asia-Pacific Journal/Japan Focus and a member of the Advisory Board of the National Institutes for the Humanities (NIHU).
Professor Saaler is author of many books, including Politics, Memory and Public Opinion, (Iudicium, 2005) and Men in Metal. A Topography of Public Bronze Statuary in Modern Japan (Brill, 2020). He is co-author/co-editor of Pan-Asianism in Modern Japanese History (Routledge, 2007) and The Power of Memory in Modern Japan (Global Oriental/Brill, 2008).
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