90th Global History Seminar

16:30-18:30       2 Oct 2020

Nakaniwa kaigi-shitsu, Graduate School of letters, Osaka University

Harald Fuess

Professor of History, Heidelberg University

Heidelberg Center for Transcultural Studies, Faculty of Philosophy


Cholera and Meiji Japan: Medical Knowledge, International Relations and the Quarantine 



Cholera originated in Bengal in 1817 before it reached the rest of the world in multiple pandemic waves proving to be the most frightening and deadly disease of the nineteenth century. Cholera arrived in Japan through Nagasaki already during the late Edo Period and the 1858 epidemic with its high death toll in the capital helped to weaken the Tokugawa government. After the 1868 Meiji Restoration cholera reemerged with full force when it was spread by the victorious imperial forces who had defeated Saigo Takamori in the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877. The year 1879 proved to be the peak of the disease with a record of 180.000 patients, the majority of whom died within a few days from being infected. Ever since cholera has been endemic to Japan with major regional outbreaks recurring over the years and only becoming negligible by the twentieth century where other pandemics like the Spanish influenza had a more devastating effect on the indigenous population.


My presentation will employ a global history perspective to reassess our understanding of cholera in Meiji Japan. As a worldwide pandemic, cholera elicited global responses locally. The medical causes of the disease were not known until Robert Koch’s discovery in 1884 with the cure remaining contested thereafter. In the period of uncertainty, international quarantine for ships and social seclusion through isolation hospitals proved to be some of the common measures advocated by medical professionals and public health administrators. Public policy caused cholera riots domestically with attacks against police, doctors and missionaries. Meiji diplomacy led to major international relations conflicts with imperial countries advocating free trade but also proved a stepping stone for Japan to assert its own imperial power in East Asia.      



89th Global History Seminar

16:30-18:30   26 Jun 2020 

   (ZOOM Meeting)


David Lowe

(Chair in Contemporary History School of Humanities and Social Sciences

   Faculty of Arts and Education Deakin University)

‘The Colombo Plan towards the Indo-Pacific: exploratory diplomacy of the long 1950s’

88th Global History Seminar

16:30-18:30   22 May 2020 

   (ZOOM Meeting)

SUZUKI Hideaki(National Museum of Ethnology)

”The Abolition of Slavery as World-wide Historical Experiences: the Non-emancipated People"




87th Global History Seminar

16:30-18:30   24 Apr 2020    

      (ZOOM Meeting)

Timo Särkkä

(PhD, Docent in Global Economic History, University of Jyväskylä, Finland)

Paper and the British Empire: The Quest for Imperial Raw Materials, 1861 to 1960


       th Global History Seminar

16:30-18:30   14 Apr 2020   ⇒ Postpone: To be announced    

Daikaigi-shitsu, Graduate School of letters, Osaka University

Rien T. Segers

(Professor of Clingendael Institute of International Relations

The Hague, the Netherlands)

BREXIT 2020: CAUSES, IMPLICATIONS AND FUTURE SCENARIO’S The most serious threat in the history of the European Union”




86th Global History Seminar


16:30-18:30   17 Jan 2020 


Daikaigi-shitsu, Graduate School of letters, Osaka University

Diego Holstein (Professor of History University of Pittsburgh)

A Brief History of Now: A Global Socio-Political-Economic History of the Contemporary World (1851-present)

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