• Sayaka

Is your analysis applicable to other cases?

Updated: Sep 4, 2019

I recently gave a seminar talk at the NUS East Asian Institute. I based the talk on my book (they uploaded a nice summary of what I presented here). EAI is a think tank. Thus the audience was researchers of contemporary societies: political scientists, law scholars, economists, etc. My book can sound like a classical political science book (something you might find before the quantitative turn), but it is very densely historical and cherishes nuances in the way (I hope) that could appeal to other social and cultural historians.

Presenting it to this audience was an interesting experience. We had lively discussion during Q&A, and I got many questions on my "case selection" and "applicability." I found myself explaining how my framework can answer the questions of why Donald Trump was elected; how students were mobilized under Mao Zedong; what Hitler Youth experienced. It has been a long time since I had to say "my idea travels" last time!

It was refreshing and, if I can be honest, a little frustrating because the applicability is not necessarily historians' primary concern. I wanted to explain this particular empire. But perhaps we should think of this question of applicability across time and places more often--it helps to make a case that our stories matter.

A slide from the seminar. My interviewee in Taiwan.

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