2020 Volume 22 Pages 25-41
Osaka University is one of the key research universities in Japan, and the Graduate School of Letters (Humanities) has received research funds under ‘21st Century Center for Excellence’ and ‘Global Center for Excellence’ programs of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). The Department of World History is the hub of global history studies in Japan as well as in Asia, and it hosted the First International Congress of the Asian Association of World Historians (AAWH) in May 2009. The Department is conducting four global history research projects: (1) Silk Road and Central Eurasian world history, (2) Maritime Asian history, (3) History of the Chinese Empire, and (4) World-System from Asian perspectives. The Asian History Section of the Department of World History at Osaka University has a longstanding tradition of archival research in a number of languages: Turkish, Mongol, Tibetan, Manchurian, and of course, Chinese, regarding ‘Inner’ Asia (now often called ‘Central Eurasia’). In the last two decades, the study of Asian Maritime history focusing on the East and South China Seas, and partly involving researchers from the Japanese History Major, has also gained importance. Under the influence of these two leading research groups, studies in Chinese and Japanese histories, which are dominant in the historical discipline in Japan besides ‘Western History’, have shifted their regional investigative focus away from the conventional ‘East Asia’ perspective (essentially China, Korea and Japan) and towards a broader and more flexible area of ‘Eastern Eurasia’ including maritime regions. As a result, polygonal collaborations among scholars working on Central Eurasia, China, Japan, and Maritime Asia (including Southeast Asia) are developing. Valuable methodological and analytical connections could be established between archival research and field surveys, and between perspectives on global relationships and the micro-analysis of local societies.