When global and local culture meet
Esperanto in 1920s rural Japan
In the 1920s Aomori prefecture, a rural part of northern Japan, a group of Esperanto clubs emerged as a sub-part of a “local arts movement”. This movement was an attempt to counter a perception of underdevelopment through the cultivation of local arts and culture together with a simultaneous engagement with global and transnational ideas such as Esperanto. By studying this unexpected manifestation of internationalism (as well as debates regarding the local/global relationship) it is argued that Esperanto represented a cosmopolitan world view that retained explicit respect for local and cultural differences, a “rooted cosmopolitanism”. This enabled the residents of Aomori to imagine an alternative to the process of modern nation building in which their local identity was seen as a remnant of an undesirable past.
Keywords: transnational history, cultural internationalism, local history, language problems, Japan, Esperanto
Published online: 06 September 2013