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Ishigaki Shincho and Imperial Careering
In Colonial Lives across the British Empire: Imperial Careering in the Long Nineteenth Century (Cambridge University Press, 2006), David Lambert and Alan Lester introduce “imperial careering” as a notion that “captures a sense of the professional life of the collection's subjects who made their way in the world as servants of empire… or whose professional lives took place in an imperial context, such as missionaries , nurses, or mercenaries (23).”
Ishigaki Shincho's career as photographer can be also called an “imperial career,” which became only possible in the context of colonial empire. Ishigaki was born into a humble family on Ishigaki Island, but then advanced his career through the use of Japan's imperial structure. In Taiwan, he went to the evening school, and even became an apprentice for a Japanese photo studio in Takao. He also worked with a photo studio in Tokyo. Indeed, he advanced his career by traveling across the borders of “metropole” and “colony.”
Ishigaki Shincho's trajectory challenges the conventional dichotomy of the colonizer/colonized of the Japanese empire. Born into a humble farmers' family, he still made career by moving across Taipei, Kaohsiung, and Tokyo, regardless of the metropole/colony divide.