Diatribes and Dialogues over the Past: “History Problems” and Regional Orders in Northeast Asia


Monday, October 3, 2022, 11:00am to 12:30pm


Common Room (#136), 2 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, MA

Harvard-Yenching Institute Visiting Scholar talk
Co-sponsored by Korea Institute

Jae-Jung Suh
Professor, Department of Politics and International Studies, International Christian University; HYI Visiting Scholar, 2022-23

Moderated by Paul Y. Chang, Associate Professor of Sociology, Harvard University

In this talk, I propose to re-analyze the history of the historical contentions in Northeast Asia as that of the regional actors’ attempts to manage their differences over national identities and their relationships in the context of the region’s shifting power balance. On the one hand, the states and civil society actors in the region have been held together by a shared past salient and meaningful to all of them, jointly creating a common transnational discursive sphere among themselves—a regional order. On the other hand, they have been molding and remolding that regional order in different shapes by endowing their common past with sometimes convergent, and sometimes contradictory, meanings. I postulate that the regional actors’ perception of others’ legitimacy and their framework of meaning may be combined in four possible ways to shape the nature of the region’s order—nationalist spheres, parallel national spheres, contentious regional sphere, and regional public sphere—and that Northeast Asia’s regional order has since the end of the Asia Pacific War evolved from parallel national spheres to a regional public sphere to a contentious regional sphere.

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