Douglas Howland
Department of History
End-of-Year Fellowship Report for 2004-05

During my year as a Center fellow, I used the time freed from teaching to accomplish a great deal of background reading in preparation for writing three articles related to my project. The project, titled “Sovereignty in East Asia: From Idea to Action,” undertakes a historical analysis of the self-perception of the Chinese and Japanese states as they combined both international legal norms and diplomatic behavior in their respective efforts to act like sovereign states in the modern and western fashion.

The article on which I have concentrated most during my fellowship year is currently titled, “Creating a Sovereign State in Japan: The Dual Strategy of International Law and Diplomacy.” The article is near completion; it examines the way in which Japanese behavior during the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95) was presented as “in accord with international law” by Japanese officials and professors of law, and their British allies, to a number of international audiences. The effect of this publicity was both to present Japan as civilized and therefore sovereign in the western manner and to justify Britain’s revision of its treaties with Japan, which accorded Japan a fully sovereign and equal status. I presented a rough draft of the article as my fellow’s seminar in the fall semester; and my fellows gave me good advice as to how I might better include the colonial context of international law generally within the article, so as to make it clear that I do not endorse international law as a purely objective practice--indeed, it was created in the context of European conquest of much of the “third world.”

The second article on which I have begun work is related to a forthcoming conference that grows out of my Center project, and which will be held at the Center in October 2005. For the conference (“Art of the State: Sovereignty Past and Present”), I am preparing an article on the practice of extraterritoriality (or consular jurisdiction) in China and Japan, and the way in which this practice was constructed and compromised by the great powers--especially Britain and the U.S. Currently, my reading has focussed on the historical development of extraterritoriality, from its beginnings under monarchical rule, in which absolute sovereigns were motivated to protect their subjects on the basis of a shared religion, to its nineteeth-century development under nation-states, which demanded consular jurisdiction on the basis of territorial definitions of sovereignty. And my third focus of reading, also in preparation for the conference--by way of producing a general statement or introduction to the conference--involves the background or general literature on sovereignty, most of which concerns European issues and is central to the comparative perspective I hope to bring to my project in its ultimate form of a monograph.

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