Reinier H. Hesselink

Reinier H. Hesselink's picture
Visiting Professor in East Asian Studies and History of Art (July 2022 - June 2023)
University of Northern Iowa
Areas of interest : 
Christian Nagasaki and Dutch Archives relating to Japan; Japan's Global Interactions from the 17th - 19th Centuries

Professor Reinier Hesselink teaches the history and culture of the Japanese islands from ancient to modern times at the University of Northern Iowa. His specialty is the cross-fertilization of Japanese sources with information derived from the writings of Europeans visiting the islands between the 16th and 19th centuries, allowing for a new and multi-dimensional description of Japan’s early modern past. He enjoys taking a written document, a painting, a map, or a household object like a screen to analyze and elucidate their contexts, geneses, as well as their contemporary and subsequent meanings. He will be teaching two seminars on the history of the city of Nagasaki: in the fall of 2022 a seminar on The Beginnings of Nagasaki (1560-1640), and in the spring of 2023 a seminar on The Dutch in Japan (1600-1868).


EAST 504, HSAR 785

The Beginnings of Nagasaki (1560-1640)

The city of Nagasaki is well-known throughout the world for having been the second target of the atomic bomb attacks ending the Pacific War in August of 1945. In view of the city’s cosmopolitan history, this was a particularly bitter result of the vagaries of warfare. In this seminar, we go back to the city’s origins to explore its essence as a meeting point between East and West. We do so guided by readings dealing with the ephemeral, initial phase of its existence as Japan’s only Christian town, roughly between 1560 and 1640. Christianity is presented and analyzed from an anthropological/historical perspective as an ideological discourse accompanying the Iberian thrust across the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Term: Fall 2022
Day/Time: Th 3:30 PM - 5:20 PM
EAST 507, HSAR 786

The Dutch in Japan (1600-1868)

After the elimination of Christianity from the permitted religious options in Japan and the simultaneous expulsion of the Portuguese from the country’s trading networks, the Dutch trade with Japan was transferred from Hirado to Nagasaki in 1641. In this way, Nagasaki was allowed to keep its function as an intermediary between Japan and the Western world. In contrast to its short-lived Christian identity, Nagasaki’s exclusive relationship with the Dutch lasted for more than two centuries. In this seminar, we explore this long standing relationship from a variety of viewpoints and epistemes: patterns of exchange, negotiation and diplomacy, objects and materials, language barriers and language learning, the use of Dutch sources to write Japanese history etc.

Term: Spring 2023
Day/Time: M 3:30 PM - 5:20 PM