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14 October 2022 - 15 October 2022

9:00AM - 5:00PM

Holgate Conference Centre Grey College and Online

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Afternoon Tea at the Japanese Village, Knightsbridge" in London. Graphic, 13 Mar. 1886. British Library Newspapers

Project Description

This project will focus on the complex cultural connections between Japanese and British science in the nineteenth-century during a period when intellectuals around the globe began to interact more intensively due to increased opportunities to travel and the growth in translations of important scientific works into many languages.  This was also an era when, in the latter part of the century, Japanese intellectuals were searching for ways to modernize their culture, while in Britain there was a renewed interest in Japanese culture and religion as traditional forms of thought were being questioned.  Although there has been some excellent scholarly work on the impact of British evolutionary theory on Japanese intellectuals, the fuller picture of cultural exchange across all the sciences has yet to be undertaken. This project will begin to close this historiographical gap by examining the intersection of nineteenth-century Japanese and British science across a range of disciplines from mathematics and physics to ornithology and anthropology. The project is interested in such questions as: Where, when, and how did nineteenth-century figures engage with scientific ideas and where, when, and how did they communicate their ideas on the larger cultural meaning of modern science? How did Japanese and British figures appropriate ideas from each other’s culture?  How did these ideas shape their conceptions of each other’s culture as well as their conception of their own culture?  

 Full details of this event can be found below. Please note there will be limited in person tickets available. Online attendance will be via Zoom.

This conference is supported by the Daiwa Foundation, York Centre for Asian Research, and the  Department of Humanities, York University.

Workshop Schedule

Friday October 14, 2022


9:00-10:00 Yoshiyuki Kikuchi, “The Impact of British Chemistry and Natural Philosophy upon Japanese Science in the Nineteenth Century”

10:00-11:00 Okamoto Takuji, “A Japanese Christian Physicist Defends Evolution: British Influences upon Kimura Shunkichi’s Philosophical Scrutiny of Science”

11:00-11:30. Break

11:30-12:30. Efram Sera-Shriar, “Ethnological Glimpses of Japan in Nineteenth-Century Britain”

12:30-2:00. Lunch


2:00-3:00 Tomoko Yoshida, “Samurai Engineers in Glasgow”

3:00-4:00 Nathan Bossoh, “’The Birds of the Japanese Empire’: Ornithological Classification and the Observational Practices of Henry Seebohm in Late Victorian Britain”

4:00-4:30 Break

4:30-5:30 Bernard Lightman and Ruselle Meade, “Minakata Kumagusu in London: Challenging Eurocentrism in the Pages of Nature


Saturday October 15, 2022


11:30-1:00  Flashtalks

Hamano Shiho, “How Hypnotism Was Imported to Japan”

Tomohisa Sumida, “Mask Craze in Japan: Jeffreys’ Respirator at the Dawn of Bacteriology around 1880”

Annabel Storr, “Networks of People, Papers and Ideas: The Role of the Asiatic Society of Japan in Facilitating Scientific Exchange Between Britain and Japan, 1872–1900”

Beatrice Ashton-Lelliott, “Illusions as a Site of Transnational Scientific Exchange in Meiji Japan”

Subodhana Wijeyeratne, “Other Races at Arm’s Length?”



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