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Turning Gardens in Japan into Japanese Gardens: Nation, Nature, Heritage and Modernity since 1890

Recorded 16 December 2021

Speaker: Christian Tagsold (University of Dusseldorf)

This paper analyses the intricate connection of nation, nature, heritage and modernity by picking up the example of gardens in Japan built from roughly 1890 to 1926. These gardens were touted as eclectic in Japan when they were built but lately have been enlisted as national heritage for being modern “Japanese gardens”. It asks at what point the assessment of these gardens changed and what we can learn from this change in a broader perspective. Tagsold will also look at gardens as symbols which lend a visual quality to the narrative of nationalism and modernity.

Christian Tagsold has a Heisenberg position at the Department for Modern Japan, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf. He has been researching Japanese gardens in Europe and the USA since 2006. His book Spaces of Translation: Japanese Gardens in the West (Penn Studies of Landscape Architecture) appeared in August 2017 and received the Abbott Lowell Cummings Award by the Vernacular Architecture Forum in 2019. Other research interest include the aging society in Japan and the Tokyo Olympics 1964/2021. He has also conducted research on the Japanese diaspora in Dusseldorf. 

IHR Seminar Series: History of Gardens and Landscapes