Internal Troubles, External Threats China, the Ottoman Empire, and Japan

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Visual Sources: Changing Japanese Perceptions of the West

1. Explaining change: How and why had Japanese perceptions of themselves and their relationship to the West changed in the half-century since the Meiji restoration? What elements of continuity in Japanese traditions are evident in these visual sources?

Possible answers:

• The adoption of Western dress as depicted in Visual Sources 19.3 and 19.4 reflect Japan’s changing self-perceptions.

• Visual Source 19.5 reflects Japan’s growing perception of itself as a rising world power with a modern navy.

• Visual Sources 19.1 and 19.2 depict Japan’s early fear and hostility toward the West.

• Visual Sources 19.3 illustrates their embracing of Western ideas.

• Visual Source 19.4 reveals concerns over the level of Western influence in Japanese culture.

• Visual Source 19.5 reveals a rising confidence in Japanese military power in relation to European military power.

• The continuity evident in the visual sources includes the use of traditional Japanese motifs in depicting Commodore Perry in Visual Source 19.2.

• The garden in the background and the layered clothing of the woman at the center of Visual Source 19.3 reflect Japanese culture.

• The criticism in Visual Source 19.4 is supportive of continuity.

2. Making comparisons: Based on these visual sources and the documents about the Opium War, how might you compare Japanese and Chinese perceptions of the West during the nineteenth century? What accounts for both the similarities and differences?

Possible answers:

• Visual Sources 19.1 and 19.2, which

reflect Japanese perceptions, project more of a
sense of fear concerning Western power than Documents 19.1 and 19.4, which reflect Chinese perceptions.

• The Chinese in Documents 19.1 and 19.4 seek to place European powers into an older system of foreign relations in East Asia dominated by China; the Japanese seek a new relationship with the West, as revealed in Visual Source 19.3.

• The differences reflect China’s distinct understanding of its place in the world.

• They also reflect the specific circumstances that defined the relationship between China and the West and Japan and the West, including the opium trade in China and the embracing of Westernization by the Japanese.

3. Distinguishing modernization and Westernization: Based on a careful reading of Chapter 19, including the documents and visual source, do you think that technological borrowing (modernization) requires cultural borrowing (Westernization) as well? Is it possible to modernize while avoiding the incorporation of Western culture at the same time? What do the examples of China, the Ottoman Empire, and Japan in the nineteenth century suggest about this issue?

Possible answers:

• Students could argue that Westernization was needed because Japan, which did Westernize, succeeded in modernizing, while both China and the Ottoman Empire failed to both Westernize and modernize.

• Students could also argue that Westernization might not be necessary because Japan’s success in modernization may have had less to do with Westernization than the fact that the European powers were not as interested in Japan as they were in China and the Ottoman Empire.

• Japan did not suffer from the same level of internal strife as China.

• Japan did not become as dependent on European loans as the Ottomans. Therefore circumstances beyond Westernization helped them survive the process of modernization.

• Students could also point to the modest successes of Ottoman and Chinese reform programs that did not include Westernization to show that modernization might be possible without Westernization.

Class Discussion for the Documents and Visual Sources Features

Contextualization (large or small group): The Drug Trade Then and Now

The third question for Documents 19.2 and 19.3 provides an opportunity to discuss the problem of the modern drug trade from a historical perspective. Ask students why they believe it has proven so difficult over the past 200 years for modern states to control the use of drugs. Do they think that either the approach of Xu Naiji or Yuan Yulin might have succeeded if the Opium Wars had not intervened? Why? Are the British culpable for this crisis in China or is China itself? It might be useful to provide further context by noting the widespread use of drugs, including opium, in Victorian England. A short overview can be found at http://drugs.uta .edu/drugs.html. Conclude by considering the modern illegal drug trade in the United States. Has the United States embraced the approach of Xu Naiji or Yuan Yulin? Has the United States been more or less successful? As with China’s opium crisis, do students think the blame should fall primarily on the suppliers or the users of the drug?

Contextualization (large and small group): Japanese modernization

Expanding on Using the Evidence question 3, use visual sources and the text in the chapter to explore why Japan succeeded in modernizing. Ask students what about the modernization program was critical to the increase in Japanese power and influence. What role did cultural borrowings, like those of Western dress, have on the process? Did the artist of Visual Source 19.4 have a point in his criticisms? Can you identify anything about Japanese culture that may have made it easier for this nation to adopt Western models rather than others? Conclude by broadening the discussion to the overall nature of cultural borrowing and by considering the industrialization of the United States and Russia.

Classroom Activities for the Documents and Visual Sources Features

Role-Playing (large or small group): A British Trade Commission Receives an Audience with the Emperor

Help students master the very different positions British and Chinese positions on trade recounted in these documents by appointing one group of students to play the role of Lord Marcartney and his entourage and another the Chinese Emperor Qianlong and his advisers. Have both groups analyze the documents and distill the main points made by each side concerning trade between China and the West. Have the remainder of the class play the role of an imaginary court of arbitration. Which side’s arguments did they find most compelling? Why? Does the prominence of opium play a role in their considerations?

Contextualization (large and small group): Depicting the other

Visual sources are useful when they depict outsiders because they provide an opportunity to examine the distinctive features that one society associates with the other. Images often make use of caricature, because there are fewer opportunities for nuance than with written documents. Start by asking students to reexamine Visual Sources 19.1, 19.2, and 19.5, asking them to identify characteristics of Americans, Russians, and Chinese that Japanese artists depict. Then ask them to consider the European depiction of Chinese and Japanese figures as depicted in [figure one of the chapter]. What distinctive characteristics are accentuated? How might these images shape Japanese perceptions of China, America, and Europe, or European perceptions of China and Japan? (Note: It would be easy to supplement this image with further American images of the Japanese from the time of Commodore Perry’s mission.) Conclude by asking students how visual caricatures can be used as primary sources. What dangers are associated such use?

Additional Resources for Chapter 19

Bedford/St. Martin’s Resources

Computerized Test Bank

This test bank provides over thirty exercises per chapter, including multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, short-answer, and full-length essay questions. Instructors can customize quizzes, add or edit both questions and answers, and export questions and answers to a variety of formats, including WebCT and Blackboard. The disc includes correct answers and essay outlines.

Instructor’s Resource CD-ROM

This disc provides instructors with ready-made and customizable PowerPoint multimedia presentations built around chapter outlines, as well as maps, figures, and images from the textbook, in both jpeg and PowerPoint formats:

• Map 19.1: China and the World in the Nineteenth Century (p. 887)

• Map 19.2: The Contraction of the Ottoman Empire (p. 890)

• Map 19.3: The Rise of Japan (p. 902)

• The Black Ships (p. 916)

• Commodore Perry and Commander Adams
(p. 917)

• Women and Westernization (p. 918)

• Critique of Westernization (p. 919)

• China, Japan, and the West (p. 920)

Documents and Essays from Worlds of History: A Comparative Reader, Third Edition (Volume 2)

The following documents, essays, and illustrations to accompany Chapter 19 are available in Volume 2, Chapter 8 of this reader by Kevin Reilly:

• Jurgen Osterhammel, from Colonialism

• George Orwell, from Burmese Days

• David Cannadine, from Ornamentalism

• Joseph Conrad, from Heart of Darkness

• Chinua Achebe, An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness

• Rudyard Kipling, The White Man’s Burden

Online Study Guide at

The Online Study Guide helps students synthesize the material from the textbook as well as practice the skills historians use to make sense of the past. Each chapter contains specific testing exercises, including a multiple-choice self-test that focuses on important conceptual ideas; an identification quiz that helps students remember key people, places, and events; a flashcard activity that tests students on their knowledge of key terms; and two interactive map activities intended to strengthen students’ geographic skills.

Instructors can monitor students’ progress through an online Quiz Gradebook or receive email updates.

Further Reading

Barkun, Michael. Disaster and the Millennium. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1974. A fine study of how people turn to millenarian ideas when disaster strikes the world they know.

Fredrickson, George M. Racism: A Short History. 2nd ed. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003. An insightful book that focuses on views of Africans and Jews.

Gordon, Andrew. A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. A very readable history of modern Japan.

Hanioglu, M. Sukru. A Brief History of the Late Ottoman Empire. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008. A promising new history of the subject.

Japan, A major collection of online resources, divided by topic.

Ravina, Mark. The Last Samurai: The Life and Battles of Saigo Takamori. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2004. The tale of Saigo Takamori, leader of the great samurai rebellion against the Meiji restoration in 1877.

Spence, Jonathan D. God’s Chinese Son: The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom of Hong Xiuquan. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1996. A brilliant study of the Taiping Uprising.


Fukuzawa Yukichi. The Autobiography of Yukichi Fukuzawa. Trans. Eiichi Kiyooka. Rev. ed. New York: Columbia University Press, 2007. The life of a leading intellectual of the Meiji restoration.

Halsall, Paul, ed. Internet Modern History Sourcebook: Imperialism. Short primary sources that deal with the relationship between Europe and several countries (including China, Japan, and the Ottoman Empire) in the nineteenth century.

Kipling, Rudyard. Complete Verse. New York: Anchor Press, 1989. The works of Kipling, the greatest of the “poets of empire,” are a treasure trove of benevolent European attitudes toward “inferior” races.

Li Boyuan. Officialdom Unmasked. Trans. T. L. Yang. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2001. A meaty novel by a leading writer of the late Qing dynasty.

Liu E. The Travels of Lao Ts’an. Trans. Harold Shadick. New York: Columbia University Press, 1990. Liu E (1857–1909) was one of the most forward-looking authors of the late Qing dynasty.

Nakae Chomin. A Discourse by Three Drunkards on Government. Trans. Nobuko Tsukui. New York: Weatherhill, 1992. A debate from the late nineteenth century between Western ideals and traditional samurai values, short enough to be used in the classroom.

Natsume Soseki. I Am a Cat. Trans. Aiko Ito and Graeme Wilson. Boston: Tuttle, 2002. An entertaining satire of life in Japan under Emperor Meiji, written in 1905–1906.

Satow, Ernest. A Diplomat in Japan. Berkeley: Stone Bridge Press, 2006. The most important account of Japan’s transformation in the Meiji restoration.


Japan Past and Present: The Age of the Shoguns (1600–1868). Films for the Humanities and Sciences, 1989. 50 minutes. Offers a good overview of Japan’s social, political, and cultural history during its period of isolation from the outside world.

Japan Past and Present: The Meiji Period (1868–1912). Films for the Humanities and Sciences, 1989. 50 minutes. Examines the rapid modernization of Japan and the establishment of the Japanese empire.

The Meiji Transformation. Films for the Humanities and Sciences, 1978. 29 minutes. Explores the transformation of Japanese culture, social structure, political system, and economy from the late 1860s to the opening of the twentieth century.

The Ottoman Empire. Films for the Humanities
and Sciences, 1996. 47 minutes. Examines
the origins and evolution of the Ottoman Empire.

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