This article examines the photography and writing of Cooper Robinson, who worked as a missionary in Japan between 1888 and 1925. Drawing from over 4,000 images, it analyzes how one missionary represented Japan, his religious project, and his personal life to Canadian audiences. Whether he used photographs to animate his lectures about Japan while in Canada on furlough, sent them as postcards to coreligionists, or saved them for his own memories, the question of representation was intimately tied to the question of audience. This article argues that Robinson’s photography and the broader Canadian missionary interaction with Japan in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries played an important role in shaping the vision that Canadians had of the country. The positive yet selective image that this missionary fostered of the country co-existed with widespread anti-Japanese agitation in North America; these photographs and the support for missionary work that they helped garner should be read with that broader context in mind.
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Research Article| May 01 2022
Seeing Japan: A Canadian Missionary’s Photography and Transpacific Audiences, 1888–1925
Pacific Historical Review (2022) 91 (2): 190–219.
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Benjamin Bryce; Seeing Japan: A Canadian Missionary’s Photography and Transpacific Audiences, 1888–1925. Pacific Historical Review 1 May 2022; 91 (2): 190–219. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/phr.2022.91.2.190
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