International Legends of Count Benyowsky’s Memoirs and Travels: A Comparative Study on Coastal Narratives of Eastern Europe, Japan and the Ryukyus.
My research looks into interactions between Japanese, Ryukyuans and foreign visitors, which often took place in the coastal areas of Eastern Asia and can be traced through local historical sources, as well as maritime travel writing.
The PhD thesis focuses on Memoirs and Travels of Mauritius Augustus Count de Benyowsky (1790), which describes such cultural exchange between Eastern European exiles, who fled from Kamchatka and arrived at Shikoku, Amami Ōshima, Taiwan, etc. It aims to reevaluate its infamous author and his ambiguous narrative through intertextual comparison of multilingual European and Japanese sources.
My approach is multidisciplinary, drawing mainly on historical, literary, ethnological and environmental studies, and employing local fieldwork. In the future, I would like to broaden the scope of this research to the other incidental and overlooked interactions occurring in the maritime contact zones – explorations, castaways and shipwrecks by both Europeans and Japanese. I would like to explore the connection between the history of Pacific Islands and maritime travel writing, as well as reconsider the place of the Ryukyu, Ogasawara, and the Kurile Islands in the global history.