In contemporary East Asia, rapid social and political changes have led to multiple shifts in historical perspective. Recent history, marked by the experience of colonialism and wars, has become an object of intense debate both within and among Japan, South Korea, China, and Taiwan. Contested Views of a Common Past brings together renowned scholars to analyze historical revisionism in politics, historiography, education, and the media. Drawing on a number of theoretical, cross-national, and comparative perspectives, these essays demonstrate how and why historical events have been reevaluated in specific social, political, and cultural contexts. History is thus revealed not only as a source and expression of various nationalisms, but also as a starting point for trans-national understanding and reconciliation.
Historical Perspectives on Contemporary East Asiaaddresses provocative themes concerning the experience of particular nations and of East Asia as a whole. It explores the turbulent process of integrating Asian societies and political systems into a global order dominated by the West over the past two centuries.
The authors show that important changes were already underway before the western advance, which had their own internal logic and staying power. They describe how people in China, Japan, and Korea redefined and defended indigenous "traditions" even as they disagreed over what these traditions were and how to transform them. They make it clear that nationalism was a powerful motivating force in the modern development of these countries, but they stress that a wide variety of nationalisms emerged and collided in the dramatic history of modern Asia.