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Transimperial Genealogies of Korea as a Protectorate: The Egypt Model in Japan’s Politics of Colonial Comparison


Focusing on the three-year period starting in 1904, the very beginning of Japan’s colonization of Korea, this article demonstrates how the idea of British rule in Egypt as a model of colonial rule played a critical role in the emergence of Korea as a protectorate. The article not only describes the scope and limits of Egypt as a model but also helps to reveal the motivations of those Japanese involved in the comparative debate; How did they promote―or oppose―this model, and to what effect? Why and how did they compare this model with other models, which one did they prefer, and for what reasons? By exploring these questions through an examination of relevant historical sources, the author argues that, on several grounds, Japan’s initial colonization of Korea can be plausibly and effectively framed as a subject of “transimperial history” that takes seriously the influence of the “politics of comparison.” The article also demonstrates that the theories and practices concerning the Egypt model can be fully understood only by seeing how the comparative views of the involved Japanese policymakers and intellectuals were influenced by the ways actors in other empires—namely, the British and French empires—had practiced their own “politics of comparison” with their specific motives and agendas. Keywords: Korea, Egypt, Tunisia, protectorate, colonialism, transimperial, politics of comparison, Japanese Empire, British Empire, French Empire, East Asia, Africa

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