The last three decades have seen a proliferation of joint historians’ commission around the world. In Europe alone, at least twenty such commissions have been formed since early 1990s; some are still in operations after more than two decades. Moreover, a number of countries in East Asia have introduced cross-national dialogues with identical features. What explain the popularity of such historians’ commissions? What are their goals and their outcomes? What do these historians’ commissions have in common, and what explains the differences among them? What does “sharing history” across national borders mean and will it continue to be a goal for historians in the future? I explore these questions against the context of greater politicization of historical issues in international affairs after the end of the Cold War as well as historians’ disenchantment with the once-widely held view of a universal truth in history. By comparing joint historians commission, I seek to shed light on historical knowledge production and international affairs in our times.
Daqing Yang is an Associate Professor of History and International Affairs at George Washington University in U.S.A. He is a founding co-director of the Memory and Reconciliation in Asia Pacific program. A native of Nanjing, China, he received his PhD at Harvard University. His research interests are science and technology in the Japanese empire, the history and memory of the Asia-Pacific War, and historical reconciliation. His book Technology Of Empire examines telecommunications networks in prewar and wartime Japanese expansion. His edited books include Toward a History Beyond Borders: Contending Issues in Sino-Japanese Relations (2012) and Memory, Identity, and Commemorations of World War II: Anniversary Politics in Asia Pacific (2018).
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