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Rebekah Clements

Rebekah Clements

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona


Rebekah Clements is an ICREA at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. She completed degrees in law and Asian studies at the Australian National University where she was awarded the University Medal, before obtaining an MA in classical Japanese literature from Waseda University in 2008. She completed her PhD in East Asian History from the University of Cambridge (Trinity College) in 2011. Following her PhD she was a research associate at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge, working on the Leverhulme-funded project "Translation and vernacularisation in pre-modern East Asia" (PI: P.Kornicki), and held a junior research fellowship from Queens' College from 2012-2015 where she completed her first monograph, A Cultural History of Translation in Early Modern Japan (Cambridge University Press, 2015). From 2015-2018 she held a lectureship and then an associate professorship at Durham University. She joined ICREA in October 2018.

Research interests

Rebekah is a cultural historian of Japan, specializing in the Tokugawa period (1600-1868). Her research focuses on language, society, and the characteristics of Japanese early modernity, as understood in the broader context of East Asia. She is currently working on Korean exiles present in Japan following the Imjin War of 1592-1598. This work takes place within her project funded by the European Research Council, “The Aftermath of the East Asian War of 1592-1598” (2018-2023). The Aftermath project is a large scale attempt to understand the legacy of the Imjin War, also known as the East Asian War of 1592-1598 and Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s Invasions of Korea. This conflict involved over 500,000 combatants from Japan, China, and Korea; up to 100,000 Korean civilians were removed to Japan. It was the largest conflict of the world of the sixteenth century and involved the largest successful overseas landings in world history by that date.

Selected publications

Clements R 2021, “Daimyo Processions and Satsuma’s Korean Village: A Note on the Reliability of Local History Materials,” Japan Review vol. 35, pp.219-230.

Clements R 2021, “In Search of Translation: Why was hon’yaku not the term of choice in premodern Japan?” in Chris Rundle, ed, The Routledge Handbook of Translation History, London: Routledge, pp.235-249.

Selected research activities

I am currently editing a volume in the new Bloomsbury Cultural History of Translation series. A Cultural History of Translation in the Construction of the Global World (16th-late 18th c. CE) will feature chapters by thirteen leading scholars. Publication is planned for 2023.

Conference and workshop activity included talks at the European Association of Japanese Studies and the European Association of Korean Studies, and the co-organization of a workshop with the Coerced Circulation of Knowledge Group at Bohn University. I also gave an invited talk for the general public, which was sponsored by The Japan Foundation, Madrid, in cooperation with the Embassy of Japan in Portugal, and the Universidade do Minho and the Universidade Católica Portuguesa.

2021 saw the expansion of the webinar series of my ERC-Starting Grant “Aftermath of the East Asian War of 1592-1598”.  This monthly online webinar allows the Aftermath project team to present our research to an international audience and to host guest speakers working on related topics. On average we now have around 45 participants from 4 continents at each session.

For the Aftermath project in 2021 I also worked with our visiting curator, Dr Seung Yeon Sang, to put together an online exhibition about the lives of captured Korean potters taken to Japan during the Imjin War. This exhibition, entitled “Stories of Clay: The Lives and Works of Choson Korean Potters in Tokugawa Japan”, uses artefacts from a variety of private and public collections and features videos of talks by leading experts, plus teaching materials for educators. It will be launched in January of 2022.

ICREA Memoir 2021