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Finnish History Writing Through Japanese Eyes : Presentation and Reception of Shifting Interpretations of the Finnish Participation in WWII

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Title: Finnish History Writing Through Japanese Eyes : Presentation and Reception of Shifting Interpretations of the Finnish Participation in WWII
Author(s): Yamazaki, Wataru
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences
Degree program: Master's Programme in (European and Nordic Studies)
Specialisation: Social Sciences
Language: English
Acceptance year: 2019
The legacies of WWI often have central position in shaping national memory and in many occasions create national myth that shapes historical understanding in certain ways. The issues often trigger heated debate on how to interpret history in national and transnational context. Such is true for Finland. The history of the historiography of Finnish participation in WWII is a process of national interpretations being challenged from outside, notably researchers from Anglophone regions. The debate surrounding such challenges made from external perspectives are still topic of debate in the current context and calls for deconstructing the national myth to incorporate national history into European context are made. While the details of the Anglophone challenges are found in previous literature, how other researchers outside of Finland explained Finnish history of WWII are not well documented. To expand the landscape of the Finnish history research in other regions, this research will focus on the history writing of Japanese historians on Finnish WWII history. The literature that will be analysed are those published in Japan between 1951 and 2017, which includes works aimed at academic and public audience. Analysis will be made using conceptual history approach to understand the text “as they were written” through comparing them with the context within which it was written. The context includes both historiography of the Finnish WWII in available literature in English by Finnish and Anglophone authors, as well as Japanese sociopolitical and historiographical context of seiyōshi (Western History). Through the analysis, several findings were identified. Key findings include the shift in the nomenclature of the wars from wartime names, Soviet Finnish War, to translation of Finnish names, shift in the “problem space” of the Finnish history in Japanese literature, both of which originates to the clarification of the niche by the contributions from early historians. Another feature was relatively quick presentation and acceptance of Anglophone interpretations regarding the origins of the wars, though with variations between historians. This is most likely due to external perspective they share with those from Anglophone regions. The central finding of this research was the very strong emphasis on the small state in virtually all Japanese literature. While the notions appear in Finnish and Anglophone literature, the genre trope of the Western History research resonates strongly in the literature, especially the notions to “learn from the Occident”.
Keyword(s): Finnish history Conceptual History Japanese history history writing Finland Japan Winter War Continuation War World War Two WWII historiankirjoitus historiantutkimus historiapolitiikka talvisota jatkosota kylmä sota toinen maailmansota

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