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Japanese Participants at the International Studies Conference and the Institute of Pacific Relations in the Twenty Years’ CrisisNovember 19, 2020
The proposed project for the research at the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) was "a re-assessment of the discourse of the International in the twentieth century." It was to examine how the idea of the "International" was formed. By the "International," I meant the counter-communist notion of the "International," which became the core of what we often term the "liberal international order" of the twentieth century. This research now forms a part of my broader book project. What follows here are my findings on one of the three focuses in this recent research at the RAC, which were also synthesized with documents from the League of Nations Archives and the Unesco Archives, and my thoughts on them.
My work at the Rockefeller Archive Center evolved into a study of the making of an international community of public health experts and researchers across imperial Asia and the Pacific. My initial interest lay with the history professional associations, particularly the Far Eastern Association of Tropical Medicine (FEATM) and the Pacific Science Association (PSA). The FEATM was established in Manila in 1908, largely through American initiative, whilst the Pacific Science Association developed out of a similar dynamic in Hawaii in 1920. In addition to fostering the exchange of ideas, research, and practices, these associations also proclaimed the goal of cultivating international understanding, fellowship, and ultimately peace through cooperation. Many of the personnel of the International Health Board (IHB) of the Rockefeller Foundation were either founders or enthusiastic participants in these associations, whilst the IHB supported many of the institutions, projects, and students across Asia and the Pacific that presented their work at their international congresses. I thus hoped to use officers diaries, correspondence, and reports held at the Rockefeller Archive Center to trace the movements and connections between health officials and scientists in Asia and the Pacific. The official publications of the FEATM and PSA promoted the goodwill of international conferences, so it was important to consult more private and confidential sources to discover what tensions and hostilities coexisted with cooperation and exchange.
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