Professor Steven Wilkinson Delivers the 9th Yamakawa Kenjiro Memorial Lecture

The 9th Yamakawa Kenjiro Memorial Lecture/SSU Forum (hosted by UTokyo Policy Alternatives Research Institute and the Macmillan Center at Yale Univesirty, and sponsored by FUTI) was held on 19th May at University of Tokyo Ito International Research Center. The guest speaker was Professor Steven Wilkinson at Yale University. There were 34 participants from University of Tokyo and other universities.
Professor Wilkinson is Nilekani Professor of India & South Asian Studies and Chair of the Political Science Department at Yale. He received a B.A in History from University of Edinburgh and an A.M in History from Duke University, and his Ph.D. in Political Science from M.I.T. His research interests are the modern history of India and he is the author of several books such as Votes and Violence: Electoral Competition and Ethnic Riots in India (Cambridge University Press, 2006) and Army and Nation: The Military and Indian Democracy since Independence (Harvard University Press, 2015), which the Telegraph (Kolkata) named one of its 2015 non-fiction Book of the Year.
After the introductory remarks by Professor Kiichi Fujiwara, Director of the Policy Alternatives Research Institute (PARI) Professor Wilkinson delivered his talk titled “War and Political Change.” In the lecture, he addressed the question on how the experiences of individuals and groups joining in major wars and conflicts affect their subsequent participation in political violence and conflicts. He focused on two cases: (1) the behavior of Indian World War Two Veterans in the ethnic cleansing during the partition of India in1947; and, (2) the role French soldiers, who had participated in American War of Independence, played in the early stage of French Revolution. By drawing on massive amounts of historical documents and data, he laid out his case for the apparent correlation between fighting in a historical war and the continued participation in subsequent historical conflicts. In making the connection, Professor Wilkinson was able to provide a new perspective on how the experiences and behavior of individuals shape the development of critical historical conflicts, opening up a topic that has hitherto been underappreciated in the theorizing of comparative politics.
The thoughtful comments by Professor Ken Ishida (Professor of Chiba University) opened up a lively and productive discussion with the active participation from the floor audience consisting of faculty members as well as graduate students and researchers. The lecture ended in great success running more than 30 minutes beyond schedule.
As a new experiment, Professor Wilkinson kindly held office hours for the graduate students at the Institute of Social Sciences. The six graduate students from University of Tokyo and Waseda University who participated in the over two-hour session were able to receive advice on their research topics and on studying abroad as well as discuss the state of political science learning at top U.S. universities, particularly Yale. The meeting proved to an invaluable experience for the young researchers, many of whom expressing great satisfaction in having such be a rare opportunity on campus.
Dr. Yamakawa Kenjiro was Yale University’s first Japanese student who graduated with a Bachelor of Physics in 1875. After his graduation, he led an accomplished career as a renowned physicist and professor at the University of Tokyo. Later, he served as the President of the Imperial University of Tokyo, Kyoto, and Kyushu and devoted himself to the development of higher education in modern Japan. The Yamakawa Kenjiro Memorial Lectures have been delivered by Yale faculty members in Tokyo since 2013.
Author: Todai-Yale Initiative Staff

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