Aftermath is a European Research Council Starting Grant project (2018-2024) run by ICREA professor Rebekah Clements at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. The project seeks to understand the legacy of the East Asian War of 1592-1598, also known as the Imjin War and Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s invasions of Korea. It will broaden understandings of the early modern world, and push the boundaries of war legacies studies by exploring the meanings of “aftermath” in the 16th-18th century East Asian context.
The Imjin War is not part of standard narratives about the early modern world but it was the largest conflict of the 16th century and was unparalleled in East Asia until the 20th century. Over a six year period, as Hideyoshi attempted to pass through Korea and conquer China, the war entangled as many as 500,000 combatants from Japan, China, and Korea, as well as Southeast Asian and European subjects. Civilian casualties were high. It was followed by a period of instability, culminating in the rise of the Manchu forces who formed the Qing dynasty in 1644. The memory of the Imjin conflict reverberates throughout East Asia today, kept alive in Korea by museums and the school curriculum, and thanks to strategic concerns that are still relevant for the modern nations of Japan, China, and Korea. Yet the daunting array of primary source languages means that a regional vision of the war and its implications remains elusive.