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Anglo-Japanese Visions of Science

Project Description


Funded by the Daiwa Foundation, Anglo-Japanese Visions of Science  focuses 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 engineering 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? 

Co-led by Efram Sera-Shriar, Bernie Lightman, and Yoshiyuki Kikuchi Anglo-Japanese Visions of Science will host a workshop at Durham University in July 2022 and produce a peer-reviewed special issue for Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science. 

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