Program-specific Assistant Professor

ZHANG, Zikang

Current Position

Program-specific Assistant Professor, Center for the Promotion of Interdisciplinary Education and Research, Kyoto University

Research Field, Activities and Interests

My research interest is about the role of the intermediaries in early modern East Asian region, with a focus on the so-called “interpreters” (通事Japanese: Tsu-ji / Chinese: Tong-shi). Generally speaking, the duties of interpreters in early modern East Asia were much more complex than their modern counterparts. Aside from being the linguistic intermediaries in communications, they also served as negotiators in diplomatic and commercial relations. While interpreter is a profession that can be seen in any part of the world, rarely have interpreters been operated in such an institutional and organized manner by the state as in early modern East Asian region. I believe that certain historical characteristics of early modern East Asian international relations can be derived from the study of these interpreters. My current research project is on the interpreter system of the Ryukyu Kingdom, with the aim of elucidating the multifaceted relations that Ryukyu had with China, Japan, and, eventually, the Western nations.


PhD in History, Kyoto University