September 2023

3:30 PM IST

113, School of Arts and Sciences


Narrating Japan in Colonial Gujarat: The Circulation of Knowledge in Modern Asia

Seminar and Lecture Series

Riho Isaka

Professor, Department of Area Studies
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
University of Tokyo

Riho Isaka’s talk will explore the ways in which knowledge about one region of Asia was circulated and reconstructed in other regions of Asia in the modern era by examining the narratives of Japan in Gujarati publications during the early twentieth century. Focusing on different types of narratives about Japan in Gujarati publications and their accompanying illustrations, it will discuss these representations of Japan reflected the specific social, political, and economic contexts of Gujarati society at the time, as well as the purposes that the narrators had in mind when presenting them. The analysis of these texts demonstrates that knowledge was not simply transmitted from one place to another, but was constantly selected, appropriated, and recast by a variety of agencies and for a variety of reasons. The question of translation, which plays an important role in the dissemination of knowledge, will also be discussed. The talk is closely related to recent discussions on inter-Asian interactions and understanding as well as global history. 

Registration Link


Riho Isaka

Riho Isaka's research interests concern issues of language, politics, food, and identity in colonial and postcolonial India, especially Gujarat. Her publications include Language, Identity, and Power in Modern India: Gujarat, c.1850-1960 (Routledge, 2021), ‘Gujarati Elites and the Construction of a Regional Identity in the Late Nineteenth Century’ (in Beyond Representation: Colonial and Postcolonial Constructions of Indian Identity, ed. by Crispin Bates, Oxford University Press, 2006), ‘Gujarati Intellectuals and History Writing in the Colonial Period’, Economic and Political Weekly, 37-48 (2002), and ‘Language and Dominance: The Debates over the Gujarati Language in the Late Nineteenth Century’, South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 25-1 (2002). She is currently involved in a project on memories of houses in colonial India, and another on knowledge production and circulation in modern Asia.