Significant Soil: Settler Colonialism and Japan's Urban Empire in Manchuria

Significant Soil: Settler Colonialism and Japan's Urban Empire in Manchuria

by Emer O'Dwyer


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Like all empires, Japan’s prewar empire encompassed diverse territories as well as a variety of political forms for governing such spaces. This book focuses on Japan’s Kwantung Leasehold and Railway Zone in China’s three northeastern provinces. The hybrid nature of the leasehold’s political status vis-à-vis the metropole, the presence of the semipublic and enormously powerful South Manchuria Railway Company, and the region’s vulnerability to inter-imperial rivalries, intra-imperial competition, and Chinese nationalism throughout the first decades of the twentieth century combined to give rise to a distinctive type of settler politics. Settlers sought inclusion within a broad Japanese imperial sphere while successfully utilizing the continental space as a site for political and social innovation.

In this study, Emer O’Dwyer traces the history of Japan’s prewar Manchurian empire over four decades, mapping how South Manchuria—and especially its principal city, Dairen—was naturalized as a Japanese space and revealing how this process ultimately contributed to the success of the Japanese army’s early 1930s takeover of Manchuria. Simultaneously, Significant Soil demonstrates the conditional nature of popular support for Kwantung Army state-building in Manchukuo, highlighting the settlers’ determination that the Kwantung Leasehold and Railway Zone remain separate from the project of total empire.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674504332
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 09/07/2015
Series: Harvard East Asian Monographs , #377
Pages: 528
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Emer O’Dwyer is Associate Professor of History and East Asian Studies at Oberlin College.

Table of Contents

Maps, Figures, and Tables ix

Acknowledgments xi

Notes to the Reader xiii

Introduction 1

Part I Place

1 Dairen, A City Like No Other 23

Part II A Place Within the Empire

2 Sovereignty and Self-Governance 71

3 Expanding Imperial Privilege 102

4 A Leasehold Based on Law 126

Part III The Kingdom of Mantetsu

5 Self-Governance, Old and New 169

6 Settler Politics as a Mass Movement 212

7 Saying Manchuria 242

Part IV The Boundaries of Significant Soil

8 The Manchurian Incident 277

9 Dairen versus Shinkyo Ideology 314

Conclusion: Dairen and Shanghai 353

Appendix A Mantetsu Presidents and Vice Presidents, and Personnel Ranks 367

Appendix B Supplementary Tables 369

Abbreviations 389

Notes 391

Bibliography 473

Glossary-Index 495

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