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Fourteen students in the History of Modern Japan class at Lafayette are discussing issues with Japanese counterparts halfway across the globe through videoconferencing technology.

The Lafayette students, who are studying Japanese history from the 19th century to the present, are engaging in three videoconferencing sessions with Japanese history students at Waseda University in Japan, as well as sharing ideas through the Internet. The arrangement was coordinated by their instructor, Paul Barclay, assistant professor of history.

The exchange began early this semester with an optional, informal 90-minute test videoconference. The U.S. and Japanese students discussed their countries’ similarities and differences in college entrance, the college experience, and young adult life in general. The Lafayette participants included Adam Buchwalter ’04, a history major from Bayside, N.Y.; Kara Henry ’03, a history major from Sandy Hook, Conn.; Austin Hu, an economics and business major from Shanghai, China; Ka-Yi (Kitty) Lo ’02, a biology major from Whitehall, Pa.; and Jordan Brugg ’03, an English major from Stamford, Conn.

“They had a couple jokesters in their gang, as we do,” says Barclay. “It demystified the Japanese for our students and allowed them to make personal connections.”

Scheduled for Nov. 14 and 28, the other sessions will cover gender and labor and the present U.S.-Japan security relationship. The videoconferencing is being supplemented by Internet discussion boards in which students share and respond to ideas.

People on each side of the Pacific have two views of history, as if different events had happened, says Barclay. The videoconferencing is intended to reconcile these viewpoints through dialogue between college students in each country.

“The main thing I want to accomplish is to make students’ views about Japan partially informed by interactions with Japanese people themselves,” he explains. “When Lafayette students articulate their opinions about Pearl Harbor, the bombing of Hiroshima, the U.S. military presence in Okinawa, or even economic friction between our countries, I want them to formulate informed opinions that they could say to a Japanese person and look him in the eye. I don’t want them to have one view of history around Americans and a polite view around the Japanese.”

Barclay has traveled extensively to Japan for research on topics such as Japanese colonialism in Taiwan. In September, he published “An Historian among the Anthropologists: The Ino Kanori Revival and the Legacy of Japanese Colonial Ethnography in Taiwan” in Japanese Studies 21, 2, pp. 117-136. He also has written book reviews this year for Humanities and Social Sciences On-Line (H-Net) and Journal of Asian Studies.

In March, Barclay made a presentation on “The Middle Ground and the Nation-State: Japanese Colonial Rule in Upland Taiwan 1895-1915” at the Modern Japan Seminar hosted by Columbia University. Since 1999, he also has given presentations at the Association of Asian Studies Annual Conference, San Diego, Calif.; the Mid-Atlantic Region Association of Asian Studies Annual Conference, Gettysburg, Pa.; and the American Historical Association Conference, Washington, D.C.

His special interests include the history of Japan and East Asia, early modern and modern global history, and comparative colonial studies. He is writing a history of Japanese colonial rule in the highlands of Taiwan.

Barclay earned a Ph.D. in history from the University of Minnesota in 1999, writing a dissertation on “Japanese and American Colonial Projects: Anthropological Typification in Taiwan and the Philippines.” He earned a master’s degree in history from the University of Minnesota in 1996 and a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1992.

Lafayette also uses teleconferencing technology for instruction to engineering students in the study abroad program based in Brussels, Belgium.

Categorized in: Academic News