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TRANSPACIFICA – Middle European Observations of a New Global Center (1900–1945)



  • The research group Transpacifica – Middle European Observations of a New Global Center (1900-1945) was established in 2015 by Prof. Stefan Keppler-Tasaki and Prof. Irmela Hijiya-Kirschnereit at the Freie Universität Berlin and the University of Tokyo. The Transpacifica group is conducting fundamental research into the German perception of the relations between China, Japan, and the USA during the imperialist era and the two World Wars. The research project examines the emergence between 1900 and 1945 of a pivotal geopolitical triangle in the Northern Pacific with the three upcoming world powers as its vertices. The associated dynamics of such a development was considered to have the potential to shift the center of world history onto the Northern Pacific region, leading up to the marginalization of Europe. 


  • In the first funding phase (2015-2017), a groundbreaking reference edition of sources is being developed. It is expected to be published in the series ‘Weltliteraturen/World Literatures’ by the publisher de Gruyter in spring 2018. It includes detailed paratexts (general introduction, chapters, textual commentaries) and is focused on a perspective of Asian German Studies. This reference edition contains sources such as: (1) daily press/daily newspapers, (2) travel and progress reports, (3) scientific and sociological literature, (4) general media and ‘Weltanschauung’, (5) fiction and essay and (6) performing arts, including film, theater and opera. The rhizome of the selected texts will offer a comprehensive overview of transpacific processes that were initiated around 1900 (Boxer Rebellion, Russo-Japanese War) and culminated in the Pacific War. At the same time, it will highlight the highly diversified cultural discussion about the Pacific as the future ‘Mediterranean Sea’, in constant reference to the German self-reflection on the future role of (Central) Europe in the world.


  • Transpacifica’s edition in numbers:

Daily Reports

140 sources

Travel and Progress Reports

25 sources

Scientific and Sociological Literature

60 sources

General Media and ‘Weltanschauung’

40 sources

Fiction and Essay

30 sources

Film, Theater, Opera

15 sources (4 unpublished)


  • Resources have been evaluated from, amongst others, the National Library of Berlin, the German National Library of Leipzig, the Archive of the Academy of Arts in Berlin, the German Cinematheque in Berlin, the Vienna City Library, the Documentation Centre of the Austrian Resistance (Vienna), the University of Tokyo, the Feuchtwanger Memorial Library and the Cinematic Arts Library at the University of Southern California (Los Angeles), the Special Collections of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and the special collections of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.


  • The Transpacifica reference edition is the first of its kind since, unlike the previous research on images of East Asia in German literature ad culture, it does not limit itself to discourses and reception processes around a single country. Instead it adopts a ‘transareal’ mode which takes into account the complex Sino-Japanese-American relations. As the anthology presents the sources in an easily accessible format, it will constitute a valuable tool for further fundamental research.


  • The second funding phase (2018-2019) aims at generating further essays and book publications based on the reference edition. The aim is to establish the project Transpacifica as a scheme of German contributions to the ambitious new paradigms of ‘Transpacific Studies’ and ‘Asian German Studies’.


  • The first edition of the unpublished exile drama Das Zweite Gesicht / The Face of Pearl Harbor (1942) by Mark Siegelberg is another spin-off of Transpacifica. It was edited by Tomas Sommadossi and was published as a bilingual volume in German and English in the series ‘Iaponia Insula’ by the Munich Iudicium publisher.


  • Scientific staff of Transpacifica has been: Dr. Tomas Sommadossi (since April 2015), Dr. Johannes Görbert (April 2015-March 2017), and Dr. des. Hosung Lee (April 2017-February 2018).


  • The Transpacifica office in Berlin is located in room JK 33/137 at Freie Universität Berlin, Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School, Habelschwerdter Allee 45, 14195 Berlin. You can contact the staff by e-mail (transpacifica@fsgs.fu-berlin.de) or by telephone (+49) 030 838 60143. 


  • A fellowship program has accompanied the work of the research group and has encouraged the exchange between researchers, especially from the Freie Universität Berlin and the University of Tokyo. To this day, the scholarship holders have been Dr. Gigi Adair (April-September 2015), Dr. Kevin Vennemann (January-June 2016), Hosung Lee M.A. (June-August 2016) and Dr. Géraldine Rademacher (September 2017-December 2018).


  • Every year, since 2015, the Transpacifica research group has organized a “German-Asian Literary Studies Workshop”:
      • 1st German-Asian Literary Studies Workshop: “Poetiken des Pazifiks”, July, 23rd and 24th 2015. (Link)
      • 2nd German-Asian Literary Studies Workshop: “Deutsch-Japanische Komparatistik im weltkulturellen Kontext”, November, 2nd 2016. (Link)
      • 3rd  German-Asian Literary Studies Workshop: “Asian German Studies – Methoden, Gegenstände, Ziele”, November, 3rd 2017. (Link)


Selection of previous events

  1. Opening statements of Prof. Dr. Stefan Keppler-Tasaki (The Pacific in the relations between the USA, Japan and China), Dr. Johannes Görbert (The Pacific in Literature and Science) and of Dr. Tomas Sommadossi (The Pacific in Film and Theater) at the first German-Asian Literary Studies Workshop on “Poetiken des Pazifiks”at the Japanese-German Center Berlin, July, 23rd and 24th 2015.
  2. Lecture by Dr. Gigi Adair (Freie Universität Berlin/University of Potsdam) at the University of Tokyo: “W. Somerset Maugham’s China works: Colonial disorientation in a New Pacific”, July, 9th 2015.
  3. Presentation of the Transpacifica publication-project by Prof. Dr. Stefan Keppler-Tasaki, Dr. Johannes Görbert and Dr. Tomas Sommadossi at the ‘Mittagsforum’ of the Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School,  November, 3rd 2015.
  4. Lecture by Dr. Kevin Vennemann (Freie Universität Berlin/Scripps College, Claremont CA) at the University of Tokyo: “Sunset Boulevard: From Filming, Building, and Dying in Los Angeles”, June, 1st 2016.
  5. Lecture by Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Bronfen (University of Zurich) at the German Cultural Center Tokyo: “Eine Amerikanerin in Hitlers Badewanne: Journalistinnen berichten vom Zweiten Weltkrieg”, July, 19th 2016. (Link)
  6. Panel discussion, at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences on: “Geisteswissenschaften und gesellschaftliche Bedürfnisse. Laufende Diskussion in Deutschland”, November, 1st 2016. (Link).
  7. Lecture by Dr. Tomas Sommadossi as part of the second German-Asian workshop: “Pearl Harbor auf der Bühne. Zu Mark Siegelbergs unveröffentlichtem Drama Das zweite Gesicht (1942)”, November, 2nd 2016. (Link)
  8. Lecture by Dr. Tomas Sommadossi at Scripps College, Claremont (California): “Vertreibungsgeschichten”, February, 16th 2017.
  9. Lecture by Prof. Dr. Irmela Hijiya-Kirschnereit (Freie Universität Berlin) at the German Cultural Centre Tokyo: “Kein Ende der Exotik? Ein Versuch über das Japanbild in mitteleuropäischen Köpfen aus Anlass von Christian Krachts Erfolgsroman Die Toten”, April, 3rd 2017. (Link)
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