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A centennial opportunity

Treaty that changed the world is focus of conference

Some opportunities only come around once in a hundred years and Amit Padukone and Lydia Yu, both '07s, recently took advantage of one. They helped with the recent "Portsmouth and its Legacies" conference at Dartmouth, which celebrated the centennial of the Portsmouth Treaty signing (Sept. 5, 1905) that ended the Russo-Japanese War.

Amit Padukone '07 and Lydia Yu '07, at a table that was at the 1905 Portsmouth Treaty gathering, now in President Wright's office.
Amit Padukone '07 and Lydia Yu '07, at a table that was at the 1905 Portsmouth Treaty gathering, now in President Wright's office. (Photo by Joseph Mehling '69)

The students, both Presidential Scholars, participated in conference preparations with internships during the summer term. Yu worked with Associate Professor of History Steven Ericson and Padukone worked with Allen Hockley, Associate Professor of Art History.

"Professor Ericson's research project grabbed my attention because I am fascinated by U.S. relations with East Asia, especially from a historical perspective," said Yu, who plans a double major in history and sociology with a minor in Chinese.

Padukone's sentiments are similar: "It was a project that perfectly represented my history modified with art history major, melding the two fields together to produce a deeper understanding of a specific historical event."

The conference, held Sept. 8 to 10, welcomed to Dartmouth scholars, diplomats and honored guests from Japan, Russia and the United States who discussed the background and making of the Portsmouth Treaty and its long-term implications for international relations.

The Portsmouth Treaty brought the greatest international conflict prior to World War I to a peaceful resolution. During the conflict, Japan and Russia fought against each other over control of Manchuria and Korea. U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt acted as intermediary in the peace negotiations. According to Ericson, a scholar of modern Japanese history, the 1904-1905 war is sometimes referred to as World War 0. It marked a turning point in global international relations and was covered by the world's media.

During their internships, Padukone and Yu honed their research skills, which will come in handy when pursuing their senior theses. Their jobs involved writing biographical statements of the participants and creating a display for Baker Library. Two other student interns, Aaron Sallen and John Reidy, both '06s, conducted the initial research for the library displays. Sallen and Reidy also gathered images and newspaper articles that were used to develop a Portsmouth Treaty curriculum for New Hampshire high schools.

The conference sponsors included the Japan-United States Friendship Commission, the Center for Global Partnership and, at Dartmouth, the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding, the Office of the Provost and the Office of the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. The Conference organizers were Professors Ericson and Hockley. Conference conveners were Dickey Center Director Ambassador Kenneth Yalowitz and Provost Barry Scherr. The group worked in collaboration with the International House of Japan, the Kennan Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the Portsmouth Peace Treaty Anniversary Committee.

By SUSAN KNAPP

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Last Updated: 11/18/14