ahorbinski: A snakes & ladders board.  (struggle & stagger)
Bibliographic Data: Faison, Elyssa. Managing Women: Disciplining Labor in Modern Japan. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007.

Bibliographic Data - Review: Review by: Bill Mihalopoulos, The Journal of Asian Studies Vol. 69, No. 1 (Feb. 2010), pp. 253-55 .

Main Argument: Family + industrialization = patriarchal authority of the father grated onto the state ==> "corporate paternalism" mode of production centered around integrating women into hierarchical relations by disciplining female workers bodily, fixing of cultural standards of womanhood (i.e. women workers treated more as women than as workers). Capital shapes social knowledge as well as the individual; "capital shapes the capacity to communicate and to feel the content of what we think" (254). Method: Marx + Foucault = feminist revolution?

Bibliographic Data: Morris-Suzuki, Tessa. The Technological Transformation of Japan: From the Seventeenth to the Twenty-First Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

Technology and development )

Bibliographic Data: Harootunian, Harry D. Overcome By Modernity: History, Culture, and Community in Interwar Japan. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000.

Overcoming modernity )

Bibliographic Data: Fogel, Joshua A. Politics and Sinology: The Case of Naito Konan (1866-1934). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1984.

Epistemological imperialism )

Bibliographic Data: Ruoff, Kenneth J. Imperial Japan at its Zenith: The Wartime Celebration of the Empire’s 2600th Anniversary. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2010.

Imperial pagaentry )

Bibliographic Data: Ruoff, Kenneth J. The People’s Emperor: Democracy and the Japanese Monarchy, 1945-1995. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2003.

Popular monarchy )

Bibliographic Data: Kingsberg, Miriam. Moral Nation: Modern Japan and Narcotics in Global History. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013.

Narco-politics and civilization )
ahorbinski: A snakes & ladders board.  (struggle & stagger)
Bibliographic Data: Crossley, Pamela. A Translucent Mirror: History and Identity in Qing Imperial Ideology. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2002.

Main Argument: "…the monolithic identities of 'Manchu, "Mongol,' and 'Chinese' (Han) are not regarded as fundamentals, sources, or building blocks of the emergent order. In my view these identities are ideological productions of the process of imperial centralization before 1800" (3). The emperorship was constructed as simultaneous and universal, and the various images of the emperor were constructed to speak to various constituencies.

Through a glass darkly )
Bibliographic Data: Perdue, Peter C. China Marches West: The Qing Conquest of Central Eurasia. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010.

Main Argument: The Qing conquests of central Eurasia were a world historical event because:
1) "for the empire's rulers and subjects, these victories fundamentally transformed the scale of their world";
2) "the expansion of the Qing state formed part of a global process in the 17th and 18th centuries. Nearly everywhere, newly centralized, integrated, militarized states pushed their borders outward by military conquest, and settlers, missionaries, and traders followed behind" i.e. 17thC crisis ==≥ 18thC stabilization;
3)
China's expansion marked a turning point in the history of Eurasia. Across the continent, the great empires founded by Central Eurasian conquerors in the wake of the disintegration of the Mongol empire had captured the heartlands of densely settled regions, used the resources of these regions to supply military forces, and pushed back from the heartlands into the core of the continent. When their borders met, they negotiated treaties that drew fixed lines through the steppes, deserts, and oases, leaving no refuge for the mobile peoples of the frontier.

The closing of this great frontier was more significant in world history than the renowned closing of the North American frontier lamented by Frederic Jackson Turner in 1893. It eliminated permanently as a major actor on the historical stage the nomadic pastoralists, who had been the strongest alternative to settled agrarian society since the second millennium BCE. (10-11)

China marches West )
ahorbinski: A snakes & ladders board.  (struggle & stagger)
Bibliographic Data: Waswo, Ann. “The Transformation of Rural Society, 1900-1950.” In The Cambridge History of Japan vol. 6, ed. Peter Duus. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989: 541-605.

Main Argument: Land reform during the occupation, "though certainly important, was the culmination of slow, evolutionary processes that date from the late nineteenth century" (542). The origins of that process lie in four early Meiji policies: the land tax reform, the reform of local administration, compulsory elementary education and universal military conscription.

Transformation of rural society )

Bibliographic Data: Peattie, Mark R. “The Japanese Colonial Empire, 1895-1945.” In The Cambridge History of Japan vol. 6, ed. Peter Duus. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989: 217-70.

Main Argument: "Japanese imperialism was more situational than deliberate in origin. The aggressive movement of Japanese forces into Korea, China, and Micronesia was as much due to the absence of effective power to resist it as it was to specific Japanese policies and planning" (223). Also, "the inner logic of Japan's strategic doctrine thus committed the empire to ever-expanding and ever-receding security goals, each colonial acquisition being seen as a 'base' or 'outpost' from which the empire could, in some way, control a sphere of influence over more distant areas" (220).

The colonial empire )
Bibliographic Data: Najita, Tetsuo and Harry Harootunian. "Japanese Revolt Against the West: Political and Cultural Criticism in the Twentieth Century." In The Cambridge History of Japan vol. 6, ed. Peter Duus. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989: 711-74.

Main Argument:
Many believed that by realizing the best of East and West, Japan had achieved a new cosmopolitan culture. The recognition of having achieved this unprecedented synthesis validated the subsequent belief that Japan was uniquely qualified to assume leadership in Asia, although much of the rhetoric that the writers used referred to the world at large. Whereas an earlier cosmopolitanism promoted the ideal of cultural diversity and equivalence based on the principle of a common humanity, which served also to restrain excessive claims to exceptionalism, the new culturalism of the 1930s proposed that Japan was appointed to lead the world to a higher level of cultural synthesis that surpassed Western modernism itself. (712)
Fascism in Japan )
ahorbinski: a bridge in the fog (bridge to anywhere)
Bibliographic Data: Zarrow, Peter. After Empire: The Conceptual Transformation of the Chinese State, 1885-1924. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2012.

Main Argument:
The Revolution of 1911 replaced a monarchical system with a republic. The republic was heavily flavored with the taste of military dictatorship and soon fell into warlordism, but the ideal of republicanism continued to motivate intellectuals and activists. At the same time, the range of beliefs that had surrounded the emperorship survived the revolution: the need for enlightened rulers, the power of sageness, the paternalistic responsibilities of the educated classes, and a moralized cosmology. The 1911 Revolution could not have happened unless large numbers of people were prepared to accept an emperor-less world, but it did not only overthrow entrenched views: it built on them as well. […] The fall of the last dynasty, the Qing, represented the collapse not just of a single dynasty but of the entire imperial system, though this was not clear to all in the immediate wake of the revolution. The whole cultural edifice of the imperial system declined together, including: first, the coercive powers of the imperial court vis-a-vis local society; second, the civil service examination system that recruited the bureaucracy and reaffirmed the cultural capital of the gentry; and third, the immense system of classical (sacred) learning upon which the exams were based. (viii-ix)

Historiographical Engagement: Schwartz, etc

Nationalism, republicanism, empire )
Critical assessment: Sentence fragments: many. I think Zarrow is pretty much correct in what he says; my brain is too full to venture much more than that, tbh.

Further reading: Schwartz, In Search of Wealth and Power; Karl, Staging the World; Hevia, English Lessons; Liu, Clash of Empires; Jones, Developmental Fairy Tales
ahorbinski: A picture of Charles Darwin captioned "very gradual change" in the style of the Obama 'Hope' poster.  (Darwin is still the man.)
Bibliographic Data: Horden, Peregrine and Nicholas Purcell, The Corrupting Sea: A Study of Mediterranean History. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2000.

Main Argument: "The distinctiveness of a Mediterranean history results (we propose) from the paradoxical coexistence of a milieu of relatively easy seaborne communications with a quite unusually fragmented topography of micro regions in the sea's coastlands and islands" (5). The Mediterranean constituted a globally and historically distinct unity that held up until the C20, when other, transcendent forces attenuated the continuities of the history of the Meidterranean; in this sense, this particular history has reached its end.

The corrupting sea )

Critical assessment: This is all actually shockingly close to actor network theory, in ways that I would say are quite fruitful. But ANT is also not great at explicating change over time. Shaw remarks that Horden and Purcell draw on the language of cybernetics to speak about Mediterranean transport, and it does not thus seem coincidental that their system, as he also points out, tends naturally to homeostasis. That said, Shaw prefers H&P to Braudel, which I suspect too is a product of our cybernetic age. As for myself, I find myself in the position of wanting to "trust, but verify."

Further reading: Braudel, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II; Mary Gentle, The Secret History

Bibliographic Data: Harris, William V. War and Imperialism in Republican Rome, 327-70 B.C. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979.

Main Argument: The Romans were total meanies who were extraordinarily warlike: "Roman imperialism was in large part the result of quite rational behavior on the part of the Romans, but it also had dark and irrational roots. One of the most striking features of Roman warfare is its regularity–almost every year the legions went out and did massive violence to someone–and this regularity gives the phenomenon a pathological character" (53). Roman imperialism was not defensive, but pathologically aggressive.

Critical assessment: We disagree with this book's premise that Roman bellicosity needs explanation, or that it was unusual for its time; like Eckstein, we do not look solely at unit level factors and disregard the parameters of the system. He's also weirdly obsessed with the question of the "annexation of territory" which is somewhat anachronistic--the Romans thought of their imperium in terms of the peoples over whom they held control, not in terms of lands to be conquered.

Bibliographic Data: Syme, Ronald. The Roman Revolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. [1939]

Main Argument:
In all ages, whatever the form and name of government, be it monarchy, republic, or democracy, an oligarchy lurks behind the facade; and Roman history, Republican or Imperial, is the history of the governing class. The marshals, diplomats, and financiers of the Revolution may be discerned again in the Republic of Augustus as the ministers and agents of power, the same men but in different garb. They are the government of the New State. […]

In the beginning kings ruled at Rome, and in the end, as was fated, it came round to monarchy again. Monarchy brought concord. During the Civil Wars we very part and every leader professed to be defending the the cause of liberty and of peace. Those ideals were incompatible. When peace came, it was the peace of despotism. 'Cum domino pax ista venit.' (7, 9)
Syme does admit, however, that this was a trade that people were willing to make, and he winds up arguing that the principate regenerated the Roman People.

Critical assessment: The 1930s called, Ronald; they want their cardboard cutout of Il Duce back. Equally to the point, saying that all history is the story of oligarchy does not actually have much, if any, analytical value. (See Noreña 2011 for more on Syme in particular.)

Bibliographic Data: Mattern, Susan. Rome and the Enemy: Imperial Strategy in the Principate. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999.

Main Argument:
This study suggests that international relations, for the Romans, were not so much a complex geopolitical chess game as a competition for status, with much violent demonstration of superior prowess, aggressive posturing, and terrorization of the opponent. The Romans behaved on an international level like Homeric heroes, Mafia gangsters, or participants in any society where status and security depend on one's perceived ability to inflict violence. Image or national "honor" emerges as the most important policy goal. In this sense Roman strategy was coherent and consistent over a remarkable period of time; and in a world where the technology and information necessary for more modern and familiar types of military strategy were lacking, it was quite effective. The value attached to honor, which was maintained by conquest, terror, and retaliation, explains the repeated, often unsuccessful attempts at expanding the empire, and the seemingly disproportionate investment of force in retaining territories of questionable strategic or economic value such as Britain and Mesopotamia. On the other hand, Roman concerns about the strength and geographic distribution of the army, and the financial cost of war, conquest, and occupation, emerge as the main factors limiting the empire's growth. The tension between these different concerns ultimately helped to determine the shape of the Roman empire. (xii-xiii)
In the end, she argues, "Rome won the war by asserting its awesome and terrifying image–an image that could not have been maintained in the face of a surrender to the Carthaginians. These were the rules of the game, and victory did not necessarily depend on superior resources of whatever kind–technology, money, or manpower–though all of these things would of course help. Victory depended more on the willingness to expend these resources based on a commitment to a certain set of values we have described as a sense of national honor" (222).

Critical assessment: I think Mattern is right about a lot of things, particularly in her equation that in the principate safety = honor = victory; "ultimate victory in every conflict thus becomes a practical necessity, and security depended, in a fundamental sense, on 'face'" (215). In Eckstein terms, the Romans did not adjust their habits of thought to their unipolar world very readily; and indeed, given that the empire literally created its own enemies through secondary state formation at the borders, this was not necessarily a bad thing in terms of imperial security under the "Augustan system." I think Polybius is right to say that the Roman Empire was the result neither of Fortune nor of Chance; I think it may also be that the answer to the question of "Did the Romans have an overarching plan for the conquest of the oikumene, or not?" is "Yes." Thinking about it in Eckstein terms, we can see that Rome's conquests until the principate were primarily opportunistic, as befitted a player in an anarchic interstate system; but at the same time, it cannot but have occurred to the Romans--particularly since Antiochus and Philip were said to have aspired to universal empire--that the safest position in such a system was, in fact, unrivaled supremacy. That said, I don't think "mentality" is a satisfactory explanation for anything; it's perilously close to "culture," which is notably plastic. I prefer Eckstein's institutional explanation for why the Romans prevailed in the first C3 Crisis, as it were, though I take the point that the Roman mindset contributed to their decision to wage war, or not--but in the sense that the Roman mindset well understood that the choice was, more often than not, between war or annihilation.

Meta notes:
They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep. For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end. Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven. – Psalms, 107: 23-30

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking,

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

– John Masefield, "Sea Fever"

As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope the voyage is a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

– C.P. Cavafy, "Ithaka" (trans. Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard)

Much corruption. Very pelagic. So sea.
ahorbinski: an imperial stormtrooper with the word "justic3" (imperial justice)
Bibliographic Data: Rostovtzeff, M. The Social and Economic History of The Roman Empire. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998. [last three chapters]

Main Argument: Cause of the C3 Crisis was not conflict between the emperors and the senate, but rather the army fighting the privileged classes until the privileged classes were liquidated and the army had overtaken the state. According to Rostovtzeff, this is a consequence of changing theories of monarchy--under the Antonines, there was a compromise between the imperial power and the educated upper classes/the senate over the issue of "naked" monarchism; recall that the government of the principate was comprised of senatorial aristocrats and some equestrians. But as the army became barbarized, it was no longer able to understand this compromise, and thus after the establishment of the Severan dynasty it axiomatically resisted all attempts to return to the prior system of government based in civilian elites, propounded by the weakening of those same elites. The C3 Crisis emperors made the best of a bad situation; the army carried out its negative program because it was drawn from the classes of those shut out of "the brilliant civilized life of the Empire" at the end of the C2, i.e. the peasantry. This is thus a tale of class envy and of the city/country divide, of a social crisis with political effects and not the other way round.

The Third-Century Crisis )

Bibliographic Data: Luttwak, The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire from the First Century A.D. to the Third. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976.

Main Argument: Roman armies were distributed along rational principles based on clear security goals.

CENTCOM Rome )

Bibliographic Data: Erdkampf, Paul. "The Corn Supply of the Roman Armies During the Principate (27 BC - 235 AD). In The Roman Army and the Economy, ed. Paul Erdkampf (Amsterdam: J.C. Gieben, 2002): 47-69.

Main Argument: "…the Roman authorities in the provinces throughout the empire controlled huge amounts of corn, which were used in three ways: to contribute to the supply of the populace of the capital city, to sustain the Roman armies and fleets, and occasionally to alleviate temporary shortages in various provincial cities" (59). "The evidence indicates that the individuals paid their taxes to the community, which in turn paid to the Roman authorities. However, the communities were responsible for paying the total amount that was due, not each individual taxpayer" (64). Taxes during the high empire were due in cash and in kind.

Critical assessment: NB: Not actually corn, which was introduced to the Old World in the C16 after the Columbian Reunification. [WTF, dudes.]

Bibliographic Data: Isaac, The Limits of Empire: The Roman Army in the East. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Main Argument: The Roman army in the East was primarily organized for offense, not defense, until the Byzantine period. (Subtext: Luttwak is wrong, wrong, wrong.) Basing ancient historiography on modern military strategy is also wrong. Equally importantly, the Romans conquered peoples, not land [thinking of the territory rather than its inhabitants is an early modern conceit]. Ergo, "the very concept of such a [territorial] boundary had no relevance in antiquity" (396) and the limes cannot be presumed to be anything like the modern concept of such; in fact, they were most likely roads and rivers. Not coincidentally, what the Roman army seems to have done, as part and parcel of securing the authority of Rome, was build, improve, and organize roads and road systems, in order to secure its own communications. Moreover, in the East, the roads were the raisons d'être for forts rather than the other way around, as the bulk of the armies were stationed in cities until the C4. Unsurprisingly, Roman rule in the region entailed occupation of important sites along trade routes rather than territorial control. For ancient states, territory was secondary to control over peoples and towns; the boundary the Romans cared about was the pomerium, the boundary of the city of Rome. Thus, Roman expansion "was an aim in itself and therefore opportunistic," not systematic" (416). Furthermore, "the population in the frontier zone was not so much an object of care to the authorities as an instrument of empire" (418).

Critical assessment: Isaac is right about general principles, but when he generalizes from the East to the Rest of the Empire, he runs into problems (opposite of Luttwak, ironically).

Bibliographic Data: Wickham, Chris. "The Other Transition: From the Ancient World to Feudalism." Past and Present 103 (1984): 1-36.

Main Argument: Wickham sets out here to describe the economic history of the end of (late) antiquity. The classic picture of the transition from the slave to the serf mode of production is not correct, not least because more than one mode of production can and did coexist in the same state.

Framing the Middle Ages )

Bibliographic Data: Wickham, Chris. "The Uniqueness of the East." The Journal of Peasant Studies 12, no. 1 (1984): 166-96.

Main Argument:
The difference between feudal and tributary is not, then, one between presence and absence of structural relationships, economic logic vs. lack of economic logic; there is a positive contrast in the methods and aims of economic interventions inside the two modes. And it is for this reason, too, that state tax-raising and coercive rent-taking by landlords cannot be conflated. They represent two different economic systems, even if they can come together in some exceptional circumstances. Their differences, their antagonisms, lie in their divergent interventions in the peasant economy, just as their convergencies lie in the fact that both are rooted in it. The same productive forces, however, can be seen as giving rise to two separate modes of production. (187)
Thus survival of the state should be seen as the norm, and failure as the deviation; the challenge is to explain Rome, rather than to explain China and other Asian empires: "the basis for their survival was their continuing force as motors of surplus extraction, even in the presence of structurally antagonistic feudal aristocracies, more or less ready to replace them in a hierarchy of dominance, if it ever became possible (and it seldom did)" (189).

Argument, Sources, Examples
- "the key qualitative aspect for state survival is the state's continuing control over the terms of the relationship between aristocrat and peasant" (179)

- "A tributary state is thus both economically and sociopolitically more complex than a feudal estate. … The feudal mode can exist without the tributary mode, but the tributary mode cannot exist without the feudal mode, except in extreme circumstances, when it continually has to fight off the feudalization of some of its local institutions; its history is the history of the resultant antagonisms" (184)

- "The state does not need to control the economic and social lives of its subjects; it just needs the funding that enables it to pursue its chosen objectives. It is in this area that we find class struggle between the state and its peasantry (and indeed its landowners): in the amount of tax payable, especially when it is felt that there are no adequate returns" (185)

Further reading: Peter Brown, The World of Late Antiquity

Meta notes: "Roads lead to Jerusalem because people want to go there, not because it is a natural halting place or caravan city." --Isaac, The Limits of Empire (105)

"The Asiatic mode as it has always been formulated cannot be regarded as having any analytical validity." --Wickham, "The Uniqueness of the East" (170)
ahorbinski: A picture of Charles Darwin captioned "very gradual change" in the style of the Obama 'Hope' poster.  (Darwin is still the man.)
Bibliographic Data: Vlastos, Stephen. “Opposition Movements in Early Meiji, 1868-1885.” In The Cambridge History of Japan vol. 5, ed. Marius B. Jansen. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989: 367-431.

Main Argument: Why did the oligarchs prevail? "Put simply, they made tactical concessions that reduced the friction between the emerging middle class and the state but crushed movements by socially marginal classes" (426). Also contextual factors: no new impositions from Western imperial powers in the 1870s; opposition movements arose sequentially rather than simultaneously. Even more importantly, "the Meiji reforms destroyed traditional structures of collective action that, if they had remained in place, would have permitted far broader mobilization against the programs of the Meiji government" (431).

Popular dissent )

Bibliographic Data: Iriye, Akira. “Japan’s Drive to Great-Power Status.” In The Cambridge History of Japan vol. 5, ed. Marius B. Jansen et al. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989: 721-82.

Main Argument: Iriye argues that two things distinguished Japan from its fellow rising modern nation-states: "the emperor system and the military's 'right of supreme command'" (731). He argues that the prestige of the imperial institution gave the Meiji government instant legitimacy, and the fact that the military reported only to the emperor gave it free rein. In other respects, however, "Japanese behavior fitted into the general pattern of the modern Western states" (764). Iriye insists throughout that Japanese imperialism cannot be understood irrespective of its domestic context, partly because "the majority of Japan's leaders and public opinion assumed that all viable modern states were also imperialist" (782).

Why empire? )
Bibliographic Data: Pyle, Kenneth. "Meiji Conservatism." In The Cambridge History of Japan vol. 5, ed. Marius B. Jansen et al. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989: 674-720.

Argument, Sources, Examples Meiji conservatism was formulated in response to the Japanese Enlightenment, and in particular several of its themes: 1) "negative view of Japan's traditional institutions and the learning that underlay them" (676); 2) stress on "the cultural example of the West" (677); 3) "wholehearted commitment to science, technology, and utilitarian knowledge"; 4) "a new view of humanity with revolutionary implications for society and the state" (678). For the conservatives, the immediate problem was how to anchor traditionalist values: was it confidence in their universal validity, in terms of the new rationalist thought, or was it in a nationalist justification? By the 1890s, Japanese conservatism had become suffused with cultural nationalism, culminating in the jubilation surrounding the Sino-Japanese War. The oligarchs turned to the conservative reform tradition of German thought, since they "needed to find ways to avoid the severe antagonism in society that would undermine the effort to achieve their national goals" (698) and also not coincidentally to legitimate the new order in terms other than natural rights philosophy: thus, the imperial constitution and the emperor-centered state. Economic and industrial policy were also fomented with a clear eye to forestalling social problems (read: Marxism), drawing on the experiences of the West and heavily influenced by Bismarckian ideas. The counterpart of this was a program of conservative reform in the countryside, which Pyle describes as a "pragmatic effort of Japanese conservatives to make limited reforms within a nationalist framework as a means of cushioning society from the traumatic effects of the industrial revolution" and to promote both economic development and social harmony (712). By the end of Meiji, the liberals were in disarray and the conservative reaction had triumphed, because, according to Pyle, "the main themes of the bunmei kaika had lacked a strong social constituency to defend them" (717). Its new social values went against Japanese mores and "above all, were incompatible with the institutions of the countryside where the great majority of the populace had its roots" (717-18), and finally, by the turn of the C20, the West had lost its status as unthinking exemplar. Although the bureaucracy's two fold strategy of pressing for social reforms and relying on local groups to propagate the desired collectivist ethic, overall, "Meiji conservatism methods set a pattern for handling the problems of industrial society that tended under these circumstances to lead to more and more extreme measures" (720).

Further Reading: Bowen, Rebellion and Democracy in Meiji Japan; Gluck, Japan's Modern Myths; Kim, The Age of Visions and Arguments; Fujitani, Race for Empire; Beasley, Japanese Imperialism
ahorbinski: The five elements theory in the style of the periodic table of the elements.  (teach the controversy)
Bibliographic Data: Hostetler, Laura. Qing Colonial Enterprise: Ethnography and Cartography in Early Modern China. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001.

Main Argument:
Simultaneous developments in cartographic and ethnographic modes of representation notable for their emphasis on empirical knowledge derived from direct observation and precise measurement suggest that the Qing was not isolated from global changes during the early modern period, nor was it simply a recipient of European knowledge; it was an active participant in a shared world order. … In short, during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries Qing China was more fully a part of what can be called the early modern world than has been generally recognized.(1-2)
Ethnography and mapping were central to these discursive imperial strategies, and early modern states employed both to extend their claims to universal empire. Specifically, "in mapping the territory of the expanding empire, the Qing four purposely chose to use the same idiom, or map language, in which its competitors functioned" and "as with much early modern European ethnography, Qing ethnography was also directed toward use in governance of an expanding empire" (23).

Historiographical Engagement: Joseph Needham, C. D. K. Yee

China's West and Southwest )

Critical assessment: Really this book should have been three articles. Hostetler makes a lot of assertions that she cannot actually prove in the name of making her subject relevant; really she should have spent more time on the early modern.

Further reading: Subrahmanyan, "Connected Histories"; Perdue, China Marches West; Hevia, Cherishing Men from Afar; Mullaney, Coming to Terms with the Nation
ahorbinski: The five elements theory in the style of the periodic table of the elements.  (teach the controversy)
Bibliographic Data: Frühstück, Sabine. Colonizing Sex: Sexology and Social Control in Modern Japan. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003.

Main Argument: Frühstück is looking at the history of sexuality and sexual knowledge in modern Japan, the revolutions in which she sees as part of a process of colonization. She looks partly at "the obsession with the 'truth about sex' and the use of the phrase as a discursive tool" in contrast to other studies on similar topics, and argues that "as much as negotiations over a modern understanding of sexuality in Japan intersected with concepts of nation and empire building and overlapped with debates about the nature of Japanese culture and the project of modernity, they also functioned to increase the premium placed on scientific-mindedness" (5). Ultimately, this process of colonization produced modern subjects whose sexualities were regulated and disciplined via state power and who thus were proper constituents of the body politic.

Historiographical Engagement: Garon, Molding Japanese Minds

Colonizing sex, somehow )

Critical assessment: This book is fine, but I actually disagree with Tom Laqueur that it is a better book than Pflugfelder's. Frühstück is bad at organizing her chapters and she never actually says what she means by the "colonization of sex." Moreover, unlike Pflugfelder, Frühstück lacks a theory of discourse through which to interpret her conclusions; she has Bourdieu and Foucault, but they are apparently not enough for her to talk about how sex was being constructed explicitly (which is not quite the same complaint as the preceding sentence? or possibly it is). I feel like a European blundering through premodern Cairo--there's no system, no place from which to secure a vantage point and observe.

Further reading: Pflugfelder, Cartographies of Desire; Mitchell, Colonizing Egypt; Masters of Sex
ahorbinski: The five elements theory in the style of the periodic table of the elements.  (teach the controversy)
Bibliographic Data: Mitchell, Timothy. Colonising Egypt. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991.

Main Argument:
…the colonial process would try and re-order Egypt to appear as a world enflamed. Egypt was to be ordered up as something object-like. In other words it was to be made picture-like and legible, rendered available to political and economic calculation. Colonial power required the country to become readable, like a book, in our own sense of the term.

A framework appears to order things, but also to circumscribe and exclude. As we will see later on, like the perimeter walls that seemed to exclude 'the real world' from the world exhibition, a framework sets up the impression of something beyond the picture-world it enflames. It promises a truth that lies outside its world of material representation. To 'determine the plan' is to build-in an effect of order and an effect of truth. (33)
And thus, Orientalism in the classic sense that Said describes is an artifact of modernity, which developed this bifurcated way of seeing the world and turned it onto the rest of the world, thus creating its own imperception.

Historiographical Engagement: Bourdieu, Foucault

Colonizing Egypt (and the world) )

Critical assessment: This is an excellent book, deservedly a classic.

Further reading: Said, Orientalism; Mitchell, Rule of Experts; Hevia, The Imperial Security State; Ibn Khaldun, The Muqaddima; Mario Savio, the machine speech

Meta notes: Remember, listeners, Descartes was wrong, wrong, wrong. Cognition is a side-effect of consciousness, not its main goal--and the liberal subject cannot hold.
ahorbinski: hulk smash male privilege! (hulk smash male privilege)
Bibliographic Data: Hayles, N. Katherine. How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.

Main Argument: This book is the interrelated story of three stories: one, "how information lost its body" and "came to be conceptualized as an entity separate from the material forms in which it is thought to be embedded;" two, "how the cyborg was created as a technological artifact and cultural icon" after WII; and three, "how a historically specific construction called the human is giving way to a different construction called the posthuman" (2). The posthuman is a complex field, but it generally has the theme of the union of human and machine, and as a view it usually shares the following assumptions: one, it "privileges informational pattern over material instantiation," with the result that embodiment is seen as historical contingency rather than biological inevitability; two, it "considers consciousness…as an epiphenomenon, as an evolutionary upstart trying to claim that it is the whole show when in actuality it is only a minor sideshow;" three, it "thinks of the body as the original prosthesis we all learn to manipulate;" and finally, it "configures human being so that it can be seamlessly articulated with intelligent machines" (2-3). Thus, "the posthuman subject is an amalgam, a collection of heterogeneous components, a material-informational entity whose boundaries undergo continuous construction and reconstruction" (3). The posthuman subject is in some senses a critique of the liberal subject, but "to the extent that the posthuman constructs embodiment as the instantiaton of thought/information, it continues the liberal tradition rather than disrupts it" (5). Hayles is here critiquing the posthuman dream of nothing less than immortality: "the point is not only that abstracting information from a material base is an imaginary act but also, and more fundamentally, that conceiving of information as a thing separate from the medium instantiating it is a prior imaginary act that constructs a holistic phenomenon [i.e. information, which must always be embodied in something] as an information/matter duality" (13). Information, understood holistically, is "a complexity too unruly to fit into disembodied ones and zeros" (ibid).

Historiographical Engagement: New media theory, science, philosophy, science fiction

How we became posthuman )
Critical assessment: This is an excellent and revolutionary book; Hayles is so smart that I am sure I have failed to capture all of its implications in thees notes. Equally to the point, as I typed these notes on my laptop, I found myself stroking the pages of the paper book I was reading, reminded by her words of "the fragility of a material world that cannot be replaced" and given a new appreciation for it and for its imperfections (49). Beyond that very material operation on me and my embodied self, this is the first book I've read for my exam that has given me hope: I think that Hayles here may have found a way out of the tightening net of informational capitalism and post-postmodernity, because the body is not an informational pattern but a real thing that exists, and because cognition is epiphenomenal rather than sovereign, which means that the liberal subject, much like the center, cannot hold. It will take a while, and it will require much thought and work, and thought-work, on the part of many people. But eventually, with these two truths, we will be able to get out if we try. (Whether this can happen before capitalism destroys the planet via unchecked climate change is, of course, another question.)

All that having been said, Hayles could stand to read some SF books that aren't by straight white guys, IJS.

Further reading: Joan Slonczewski, Brain Plague; Gibson, Neuromancer; Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?; Blade Runner; Stephenson, Snow Crash; Sherry Turkle, Simulation and its Discontents; Vannevar Bush, "As We May Think"; Catherine Bateson, Our Own Metaphor; Donna Haraway, "A Cyborg Manifesto"; James Beniger, The Control Revolution

Meta notes:
Although I think that serious consideration needs to be given to how certain characteristics associated with the liberal subject, especially agency and choice, can be articulated within a posthuman context, I do not mourn the passing of a concept so deeply entwined with projects of domination and oppression. … If my nightmare is a culture inhabited by posthumans who regard their bodies as fashion accessories rather than the ground of being, my dream is a version of the posthuman that embraces the possibilities of information technologies without being seduced by fantasies of unlimited power and disembodied immortality, that recognizes and celebrates finitude as a condition of human being, and that understands human life is embedded in a material world of great complexity, one on which we depend for our continued survival. (5)


"And there was a moment. There was a moment, dear listeners, when I considered it. I considered joining Carlos and becoming perfect. But I’ve come to know something after these months together with dear Carlos.

"Perfection is not real. Perfection is not human. Carlos is not perfect, no. Even better — he is imperfect.

"Everything about him, and us, and all of this, is imperfect! And those imperfections in our reality are the seams and cracks into which our out-sized love can seep and pool. And sometimes we are annoyed, and disappointed, and that too is part of how love works. It is not a perfect system, but oh!

"Oh, well.

"And so I resisted.

"I fought off the vision of the shrouded figures and the dark planet and all that was perfect and I held close to imperfection.

"To my own imperfection.

"To my imperfect Carlos.

"I took him, and I carried him out of the cube. I came up, heaving, into this world that will disappoint us.

"Finally, free." – Welcome to Night Vale, "Condos"
ahorbinski: A snakes & ladders board.  (struggle & stagger)
Bibliographic Data: Nakamura, Lisa. Digitizing Race: Visual Cultures of the Internet. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008.

Main Argument: In this work, Namakura "locate[s] the Internet as a privileged and extremely rich site for the creation and distribution of hegemonic and counter hegemonic visual images of radicalized bodies" (13). Moreover, now that the internet's audiences are much more diverse, "women and people of color are both subjects and objects of interactivity; they participate in digital racial formation via acts of technological appropriation, yet are subjected to it as well" (16). Nakamura argues that this process, and the mediation of these identities, is "regulated and conditioned by the types of interfaces used to classify, frame, and link them" (27); "the premise of this book is that women and racial and ethnic minorities create visual cultures on the popular Internet that speak to and against existing graphical environments and interfaces online" (172).

Historiographical Engagement: Wendy Chun, Alexander Galloway, Henry Jenkins, many others

Visual cultures of the Internet )

Critical assessment: This is another great new media book that I wish hadn't been written ten years or more ago; although it was published in 2006, most of the material is from 2003-05, and it shows, not in that what Nakamura says here is wrong, but in that I really would like to know what she thinks of the developments in race, Web 2.0, interactivity, and all the other subjects she discusses here in the decade since. I've heard her speak, and she's a great scholar as well as a very nice person, and I really just want more of her thoughts than this book, fixed in time and print as it is, can provide.

Further reading: Windtalkers; Gibson, Neuromancer; Blade Runner; Dirty Pretty Things; Galloway, The Exploit; Tina Takemoto; Hayles, How We Became Posthuman

Meta notes: "It's all connected."
ahorbinski: a bridge in the fog (bridge to anywhere)
Bibliographic Data: Eckstein, Arthur M. Mediterranean Anarchy, Interstate War, and the Rise of Rome. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006.

Main Argument: "International politics in the ancient Mediterranean world was long a multipolar anarchy–a world containing a plurality of powerful states, contending with each other for hegemony, within a situation where international law was minimal and in any case unenforceable" (1). The Republic of Rome, however, did establish a system of unipolarity in the Mediterranean by the 160s BCE at the latest, a unipolar system with Rome as the hegemony that lasted for six hundred years. Rome did not establish this hegemony because it was exceptionally bellicose; indeed, it was no more or less warlike than its state-level competitors and what gave it its comparative advantage was its ability to leverage its allies through the flexible management of Roman identity (i.e. the citizenship and various other statuses), eventually being able to field far larger armies and command much greater resources than its competitors. But it is a fatal mistake to ignore the effect of its interstate environment on Rome's development, and on the exact character of the Romans' achievement; "the stress here is–and given the condition of scholarly analysis it must be–on acknowledging the previously unacknowledged role of system-level factors, both in the causation of warfare in the ancient Mediterranean and in the rise of Rome to world power" (35).

Historiographical Engagement: Mommsen, because everything old is new again and nothing ever dies; lots of "realists" throughout history--Thucydides, Hobbes, Arendt, Kissinger, Zakaria

The war of all against all, and how the East was won )

Critical assessment: This is an excellent book, although it's rather trippy to be reading something in 2006 going on about how Mommsen was right and unironically citing Henry Kissinger. And if we are led in the end back to unit-level factors by this thorough examination of the anarchic interstate system in which Rome existed and over which it ultimately triumphed, it is very nice to know that we can weight those factors and select them correctly, having carried out the exercise.

Further reading: Hobbes, Leviathan; Kant, Perpetual Peace; Harris, War and Imperialism in Republican Rome; Mattern, Rome and the Enemy

Meta notes: Rome is a black swan. Mommsen was right. Ditto Thucydides. And Polybius was right too, don't forget about him.

"We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time."
ahorbinski: an imperial stormtrooper with the word "justic3" (imperial justice)
Bibliographic Data: Hevia, James L. The Imperial Security State: British Colonial Knowledge and Empire-Building in Asia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Main Argument: Hevia states at the beginning that "the Indian Army Intelligence Branch, and the forms of knowledge it produced, is the focus of this study. The records of the Branch, its library, archives and correspondence, make quite clear the scope and depth of the epistemological project at the core of British imperialism" (2). Hevia argues "that military intelligence was a product of the new mechanisms of state formation, the disciplinary and regulatory regimes, to use Michel Foucault's terms, that transformed European states in the second half of the nineteenth century into militarized polities" (5). Hevia argues that studying the imperial intelligence apparatus leads one to appreciate "the role of the military in initiation, influencing, and implementing policy" (16). Also, "military intelligence not only framed imperial strategies vis-a-vis colonized areas to the east, but produced the very object of intervention: Asia itself" (ibid).

Imperial security )

Critical assessment: James Hevia's English Lessons is easily one of the best books I've read in graduate school, and I'm not surprised to be saying that this is another excellent study, although somewhat more restricted in scope. But the final chapter in particular brings it all home brilliantly--how empire perpetuates itself after its death, how colonial processes are turned on the metropole and vice versa, how no knowledge is ever neutral or apolitical and how history has real consequences. Brilliant.

Further reading: Hevia, English Lessons; Kipling, Kim; Mitchell, Rule of Experts; Charles Callwell, Small Wars

Meta notes: In the current phase of this story, we should all be very clear that we in the metropole are not the British Army intelligence officers, but rather the Chinese--and the subjects of these regimes in Asia and elsewhere are still subject to them, in an evolved form.
ahorbinski: The five elements theory in the style of the periodic table of the elements.  (teach the controversy)
Bibliographic Data: Guha, Ranajit. Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency in Colonial India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1983.

Main Argument: Guha argues that "insurgency…was the necessary antithesis of colonialism during the entire phase between its incipience and coming of age in India" (2). The British attempt to understand and deal with peasant insurgency required a written record that was a discourse of power, that attempted to understand violence in light of past experience. This colonial record was thus "rational in its representation of the past as linear and secular rather than cyclical and mythic" (3). This official historiography has been read as-is, rather than in reverse as it must be in order to recover the character of peasant insurgency and agency, and thus peasant consciousness.

Historiographical Engagement: Gramsci, Marx, Hobsbawm, Engels, Mao, Hegel, Durkheim, Saussure, Bakhtin. Sidebar: Guha is taking on at least five separate schools of historiography (British imperialist historiography out of Oxford; comprador collaborationist thesis out of Cambridge Marxist school which holds that colonialism is an effect of capitalism; Indian nationalist historiography; Indian Marxist historiography; and European Marxist historiography)

Elementary aspects of peasant insurgency )

Critical assessment: This book is considered a classic, and it's not hard to see why; Guha masterfully flips the historical record the right way round (as Alexander Herzen might say in The Coast of Utopia) and reads an entirely new story there. The one remark I have is that as a fairly hardcore Marxist, Guha's writing is sometimes a bit terminology laden, but this is a minor quibble. For Guha, the project of Indian nationalism and nationalist historiography was a failure (because neither took account of the peasantry, i.e. 75% of the Indian population) and this is thus a counter-nationalist historiography, because the nation dominates the story. There's also the question of caste, which is discussed here though not necessarily very explicitly.

Further reading: James C. Scott, Weapons of the Weak; Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe; Guha, "The Prose of Counter-Insurgency"; Joan Wallach Scott, "On Language, Gender, and Working-Class History"

Meta notes: "You’ve got Hegel’s Dialectical Spirit of History upside down and so has he. People don’t storm the Bastille because history proceeds by zigzags. History zigzags because when people have had enough, they storm the Bastille."
ahorbinski: A picture of Charles Darwin captioned "very gradual change" in the style of the Obama 'Hope' poster.  (Darwin is still the man.)
Bibliographic Data: Fan, Fa-Ti. British Naturalists in Qing China: Science, Empire, and Cultural Encounter. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004.

Main Argument: This book "attempts to explain how Western (especially British) naturalists in China and their Chinese 'associates' explored, studied, and represented China's natural world in both local and global contexts" (2), employing the concept of "contact zone" or "borderlands" to "denote the intersecting zone between the temporal and spatial trajectories of peoples of different geographic origins, cultures, and histories" (3).

Historiographical Engagement:  Empire theorists and historians, naturalists, historians of science

British naturalists in Qing China )

Critical assessment: I wish this book were longer and went into more detail, and that some of my favorite books on the same general topic, such as Hevia's English Lessons, had been around for him to reference and dialogue with when he was writing. That said, it's excellent, both for the dimensions it illuminates and for his insistence that reading the process of empire as entirely one-sided is incorrect.

Further reading: Marie Brennan, A Natural History of Dragons; James Hevia, The Imperial Security State

Meta notes: No man is an empire, entire of itself.
ahorbinski: A DJ geisha (historical time is a construct)
Bibliographic Data: Ambaras, David Richard. Bad Youth: Juvenile Delinquency and the Politics of Everyday Life in Modern Japan. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006.

Main Argument:
If delinquency symbolized the dangers of uncontrolled social change and the defects of existing social arrangements, champions of juvenile reform and juvenile protection envisioned an orderly, productive Japan that could master the challenges of the modern era, from industrialization to imperialist expansion to total war. The ideas of these reformers, and the thick, intrusive network of socialization agencies that they constructed, have to this day played a critical role in shaping Japanese experiences of home, school, work, and play, and in fostering the culture of discipline and social vigilance for which contemporary Japan is internationally known. (2)

Historiographical Engagement: Lots of sociologists and Japanese historians

The kids are(n't) all right )

Critical assessment: This is a well-written, thoughtful study that does what it says on the tin and illuminates one of the most pervasive aspects of modern Japanese society very effectively along the way. I am also very grateful for Ambaras' attempts to recover the politics of everyday life and the reactions of those subjects of these regimes to their workings, even if the evidence is sparse in some respects and he cannot offer a fully polyvocal history.

Further reading: Silverberg, Erotic Grotesque Nonsense; Kingsberg, Moral Nation; Jones, Developmental Fairy Tales; Pflugfelder, Cartographies of Desire
ahorbinski: The five elements theory in the style of the periodic table of the elements.  (teach the controversy)
Bibliographic Data: Mullaney, Thomas S. Coming to Terms with the Nation: Ethnic Classification in Modern China. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011.

Main Argument:
These differences in ethnotaxonomy [from the Qing to the Republic to the PRC] cannot be accounted for at the level of the categorized. Rather, what changed over the course of this period were the ethnopolitical worldviews of the different Chinese regimes, the modes and methods of categorization they employed, and the political commitments that guided their respective efforts to reconceptualize China in the postimperial era. There was no single “search for a nation in modern Chinese nationalism”—rather, there were searches, in the plural. (3)
Historiographical Engagement: James C. Scott, Seeing Like a State; others

Finding the minzu in modern China )

Critical assessment: Mullaney is a really smart dude, and therefore it's doubly frustrating that this book is so short. I am reliably informed that he knows a lot more about this topic than he actually says in the book, and even aside from that, he gestures towards some really interesting ideas in his introduction that are never picked up again in the book--indeed, he never pursues most of the interesting implications of his ideas. So, I think he is substantially correct as far as he goes, but this is a short book, and if I were an editor, I would have asked him for the missing 1/3 of the manuscript before I published it.

Further reading: Laura Hostetler, Qing Colonial Enterprise; Scott, Seeing Like a State; Fan, British Naturalists in Qing China
ahorbinski: shelves stuffed with books (Default)
Bibliographic Data: Han, Jung-sun N. An Imperial Path to Modernity: Yoshino Sakuzo and a New Liberal Order in East Asia, 1905-1937. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012.

Main Argument: This study argues that
Perceiving the tacit relationship between liberalism and the imperialist order, the Japanese chose to conform to liberal ideas and institutions to direct Japan's transformation into an imperialist power in Asia. … Trying to sustain and rationalize the imperial project, Japanese liberals actively sought to make the domestic political stage less hostile to liberal ideas and practices by appealing to the interests of the new middle class. The press was their main instrument of power. Facilitating the creation of print-mediated public opinion, liberal intellectuals attempted to enlist the new middle class as a social ally in circulating liberal ideas and practices within Japan and throughout the empire. (6, 7)

Historiographical Engagement: Najita, Hara Kei; Gordon, Imperial Democracy; Barshay, State and Intellectual; Duus, Party Rivalry and Political Change; Fromkin, The Peace to End All Peace

Liberal elitism in imperial Japan )

Critical assessment: This book has several related problems that are all features of its single overarching problem, which is that it never articulates its central intellectual problem and why it matters. As Professor Berry would say, it lacks gravitas, and particularly compared to a book like State and Intellectual in Modern Japan, it's kind of bloodless--as a certain wise scholar said to me, there's never a sense of why people in general thought of Yoshino as the great Japanese democratic hope, so ironically given her remarks in the introduction, Han winds up reiterating the elitism that other scholars have identified in the "liberals" of late Meiji and Taisho. She also never explains why Royama Masamichi is the person to follow of of Yoshino's circle, or to what extent all this theorizing of the cooperative community had any impact on the people who were setting it up, and setting it up to run itself into the ground. There are some good points in here, but they all need to be expanded by a significant percentage, in my opinion. In other words, this is a missed opportunity.

Further reading: Fogel, Politics and Sinology; Jones, Developmental Fairy Tales

Meta notes: But no really, why do we care? The book needs to tell us this.
ahorbinski: A picture of Charles Darwin captioned "very gradual change" in the style of the Obama 'Hope' poster.  (Darwin is still the man.)
Bibliographic Data: Smith, Thomas C. The Agrarian Origins of Modern Japan. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1959.

Main Argument: In the Tokugawa period across Japan, cooperative farming was displaced by individual family arming, and the individual family "clearly emerged as the center of production organization and economic interest" (ix). The most important cause of this was the growth of the market, which was disruptive. In general, these changes show that Japanese agriculture is dynamic, not sempiternally fixed, and that changes in farming during the Tokugawa period were the very opposite of regressive.

Agrarian Origins of Modern Japan )

Critical assessment: Tom Smith, ladies and gentlemen. Tom Smith. Fifty-five years on and this book has barely aged--some of the details are sketchy, and see my comments for the question of rural immiseration in the Meiji period and after, but all in all, working mostly from sketchy and unevenly published documents cited in other people's works, he laid it out, and got it right.

Further reading: Vlastos, Peasant Protests and Uprisings in Tokugawa Japan; Smith, Nakahara; Smith, Native Sources of Japanese Industrialization

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ahorbinski: shelves stuffed with books (Default)
Andrea J. Horbinski

September 2014

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