This course explores some of the most decisive issues of International Relations in East Asia (China, Korea, Japan) by focusing on the way these are represented and reflected on in various forms of visual media, such as movies, anime, caricatures, or in statues, gardens, or games. These representations of IR – as this course will demonstrate – offer not only illustrations, but make interventions and shape ideas about IR, national identities, self-other relations (within the region, but also between East and West) and thereby define the backdrop for international relations to unfold.
Taking this approach, the course has a dual objective:
On the one hand it aims to familiarize students with some of the most critical points of conflict in the region. By putting these into perspective students will get a better understanding of their roots and their symbolic significance, while we will also link these up with more general questions/problematics of international relations, such as: strategic thinking/ambiguity, historical memory, orientalism, borders/bordering, recurrences of the yellow peril narrative, or dilemmas of alliance formation (abandonment and entrapment).
On the other hand, the course will ask how these forms of visual media intervene in international relations. Why does it matter what films we watch and what caricatures depict? What merits and drawbacks does the use of humour, metaphors or analogies have in understanding and doing international relations?
For making such a course feasible for every session the assigned study material will include both academic readings and images, cartoons, films or anime. Sessions will be supplemented by film screenings (These are not mandatory, but watching the movies offers the basis to have lively debates during the subsequent sessions).
A good knowledge of East Asian politics and history is not a prerequisite. But an interest is.