Sept 14-16: Bakumatsu Japan

Armed with the beginnings of a theoretical vocabulary we are now turning to the particular history of the emergence of the nation-state in what will be called Japan. Up to now calling it Japan while not totally unheard of was neither common nor official—and didn’t mean what we mean today even when it was used. The official term for the political and socio-economic unit would have been tenka (天下) literally, all-under-heaven, but closest to “The Realm.” Another term kōgi (公儀) is even more general, specifically referring to the “official rites” of the Tokugawa bakufu, but essentially meaning something more like “the Public” (NOT “the people”) or “the authorities.” In reading the pieces below, work on developing a particular vocabulary of terms and dates while at the same time remembering that the reason we are reading this is to see the emergence of the nation-state, so with our theoretical readings in mind, also look for resonances and deviations from the nation-state form.

Gordon, A Modern History of Japan, pp. 11-34, 47-59.

John Dower, “Black Ships & Samurai

Austin, Negotiating With Imperialism

Steele, “Edo in 1868