Embodying Japanese Empire: Tattooing and Judo in Colonial Taiwan

Fall 2019 Grant Recipient

Chad R. Diehl (History)

As Japan built its empire in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, it enforced assimilationist policies that changed the lives of the people in its territories. This project explores the history of body culture among the indigenous tribes of Taiwan during the Japanese colonial period (1895-1945). Japanese policies that banned tattooing and introduced judo had physical and cultural repercussions that lasted for decades. Inking of the skin and cultivating bodies through the martial arts provide compelling windows onto the history of the physical body under colonialism, illuminating how bodies have historically served as a contested site of identity and power.