Divided Memories: History Textbooks and the War in Asia

Monday, February 11, 2008
8:15 AM - 12:00 PM
Daniel and Nancy Okimoto Conference Room

An international conference will be convened on February 11-12, 2008 at Stanford University at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center to examine the role of high school history textbooks in the formation of historical memory regarding the events of the Sino-Japanese and Pacific wars and their outcome. Shorenstein APARC researchers have looked at the treatment of those events, in the period from 1931-1951, in the most widely circulated high school history textbooks (national and world history), including those used in college preparatory course, in China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the United States. Translations of those textbooks into English have been prepared for use by historians and other scholars, allowing a comparative study of how historical memory is being shaped in the school systems.

The conference will have three main goals: first it will ask historians to comment and analyze the treatment of history in those textbooks, comparing it to accepted historical understanding. Second, it will look at the process of textbook writing and revision – in some cases (China and Taiwan particularly), the main textbooks have undergone significant revision recently and our data set includes the old and new versions of history textbooks in use in schools. Third, the conference will examine how the formation of divided memories impacts international relations in East Asia and between the United States and Asia and how this effort to understand this process may aid the goal of reconciliation.

The proceedings of this conference will be the basis of an edited volume, including comparative excerpts from the textbooks themselves, to be published by an academic press in the United States and hopefully in Asia as well. Participants will be asked to prepare a written paper for presentation and for publication.