2007 Student Research Conference:
20th Annual Student Research Conference

Social Science

Meiji Japan: Western Perceptions from Perry to 1910
Chris M. Woodard
Dr. Thomas Zoumaras, Faculty Mentor

As America looked to expand its commercial and cultural influence in the nineteenth century, it found certain economic and strategic opportunities in Asia. However, with those opportunities came questions regarding American perceptions of race. Some historiography suggests that Japan’s rapid industrialization challenged Western conceptions of Japanese people as backwards. Japan’s rapid development, and its willingness to import foreign technology, challenged stereotypes of Asians as resistant to change, and forced Westerners to re-examine stereotypes of Asians as inferior. Japan looked to expand, both territorially and economically, like the Western powers that had coerced it into opening, and its ambitions started to collide with Western powers, including the United States. As China struggled to industrialize under the treaty system imposed upon it, and Japan grew powerful enough to defeat China and Russia in war, the difference between American racial attitudes regarding Japanese and Chinese became more pronounced and complicated.

Keywords: Japan, Meiji Restoration, racism, imperialism, race


Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 65-1
Location: VH 1320
Time: 2:45 pm

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