Innovative Histories: Labor and Technology in Japan's Modern Mobility Regime

25April
5:00PM - 6:15PM
Fromm Hall 115 - Berman Conference Room

The USF Center for Asia Pacific Studies welcomes professor Kate McDonald to address how humans have powered transport. Humans powering transport is as true for the twenty-first century as it is for the early twentieth. Look no further than the parcel delivery workers sprinting up and down apartment-building staircases. Despite the continuity of human power, explicitly human-powered technologies such as the rickshaw symbolize Japan's past while the promise of automated transport systems such as delivery drones symbolize Japan's future. Why? From human-powered railways to trucking to parcel delivery, this talk shows that successful innovations are often those that find new ways to incorporate human power. McDonald argues that we need a new history of innovation to account for the persistence of human power in Japan’s past and present, and to understand the role of human power in Japan’s future.

Kate McDonald is Associate Professor of Modern Japanese History at the University of California, Santa Barbara and co-director of the Bodies and Structures: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian History project. She is the author of Placing Empire: Travel and the Social Imagination in Imperial Japan (California, 2017). She currently serves as the Associate Editor for Japan at the Journal of Asian Studies and co-editor of the monograph series Johns Hopkins Studies in the History of Technology.

Community Partners: MA in Asia Pacific Studies, Asian Studies, Japanese Studies, and Department of History