井の中の蛙

6/7/2011

The Kempeitai studies Anthropology

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 3:15 pm

Our friends at Savage Minds often post on issues related to anthropologists at war. Today I came across an example of an anthropologist at war in a 1942 diary by Takeuchi Tatsuji. Together with pan-asianist ideologue and postwar socialist politician Rōyama Masamichi, Takeuchi traveled to Japanese occupied Philippines and conducted a study of the archipelago for the Japanese military administration.1

In his Manila diary, there is the following passage in the entry for January 19, 1943 when he visited Allied detainees in Fort Santiago:

Professor H. Otley Beyer, a famous American anthropologist at the University of the Philippines, was released three hours after capture and was given a research room to continue his work. He has been giving a regular series of lectures on Philippine peoples to members of the Kempeitai [Japanese military police]. In addition to Professor Beyer, about fifteen American internees at the University of Santo Tomas are giving lessons in English conversation to Kempeitai members. They seem to be happy to get out of the camp as a diversion.”2

Though I’m not familiar with him, Otley Beyer (1883-1966) looks like he published a great deal on the philippines. There are 28 entries by him in the Harvard library system here, all on the Philippines. However, I don’t see any that look like a memoir or diary from his time during the war.

Exploring his wartime interactions with the Japanese and lecturing the Japanese military police, or the Kempeitai, which was the core institution of brutal repression during the occupation, might be an interesting paper for someone who has access to his papers in Australia.

One place to start would be:

Otley Beyer collection – at the Australian national library. See more here. A finding aid to the collection can be found here, including several boxes from his World War II papers.

  1. Part of the report and some of the diary entries can be found translated in Masamichi Rōyama and Takeuchi Tatsuji, The Philippine Polity: A Japanese View (New Haven: Yale University, Southeast Asia Studies; [distributor: the Cellar Book Shop, Detroit, 1967). At the time of publication in the 1960s, Takeuchi was a professor at Kansai Gakuin University, where had taught since 1932. He got his PhD in political science at Chicago. In addition to his trip to the Philippines, he was an advisor to the Burmese occupation government. ibid., 209. []
  2. ibid., 225-6. []

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