Panel to be held at the Joint East Asian Studies Conference, Edinburgh, 2019.
Like its English counterpart ‘scientist’, the term kagakusha was for much of its early existence a matter of debate, particularly in Japan where science initially suffered from a reputation as a vocation for “second rate people”. During the twentieth century, however, scientists in Japan increasingly came to have an established professional identity and a clearly defined position in the public sphere.
The three papers in this panel provide a chronological exploration the evolving profile of the scientist in nineteenth and twentieth century Japan, asking how the identity of the kagakusha developed, and examining how Japanese scientists established a position for themselves in society and in the public sphere. Together they historicize the notion of the scientist in Japan in an attempt to de-centre our understanding of the history of modern science. It is hoped that such an approach can reveal some of the implicit assumptions underlying mainstream scholarship and contribute to a more thoroughly global history of modern science.