Sophia University Institute of Comparative Culture presents a workshop on

Networks in Premodern and Early Modern Japan

This is the fifth workshop of the ICC research group "Network Studies."
Date: October 20, 2012
Location: Sophia University, Bldg. 10, 3F, Room 301
Time: 13:30 until 17:00

The workshop will be conducted in English.
No prior registration required.
Free of charge

Paper Abstracts and bios

Rieko Kamei-Dyche (University of Southern California/Hitotsubashi University):
"Marriage Strategies and Familial Networks of the Saionji"
While conventional treatments of medieval Japan that privilege warrior narratives have been slowly augmented by scholarship revealing the continuing role of the court, the vibrant court culture and the roles played by courtier families remain underdeveloped in the literature. A fascinating case study is offered by the Saionji, a notable courtier family that developed extensive connections with both court and bakufu and commanded great wealth and influence. One of the reasons for Saionji prominence was their great skill at generating and wisely investing social capital, especially in building family relations with the major power holders of the time. Through examining these family networks, how they were developed and what benefits they brought the family, an unexplored side of medieval Japanese society comes to light.

Rieko Kamei-Dyche is a historian of premodern Japan, specializing in the medieval era. She is primarily concerned with courtier society, which she examines in light of a range of perspectives from social, cultural, and women’s history. Her work also makes extensive use of literature, drawing upon her background in classical Japanese literary studies. She is interested in theorizing the interaction between history and literature, as well as in how to more effectively utilize literary sources for historical studies. Her dissertation project is a multi-dimensional assessment of early medieval courtier society, based on a case study of the Saionji family, focusing in particular on their human networks and cultural capital.

Alexander Vesey (Meiji Gakuin University):
"Forging Karmic Ties: Buddhist temple networking in Early Modern Japan"
Working from a social historical perspective, this paper examines the processes that contributed to the expansion of Kanto area Buddhist temple networks during the 17th and early 18th centuries. Given the emphasis of "founders, " "lineages" and "schools" in popular histories of Japanese Buddhism, the internal coherence of Buddhist institutions seems a given. Local records, however, reveal a different reality as temple networks were also forged by negotiation, and at times hard-fought litigation. This presentation will use several case studies to consider the motives and methods that drove early modern Buddhist networking.

Alexander Vesey earned at Ph.D. in East Asian Studies from Princeton in 2003. He previously received a B.A. in Asian Studies from U.S.C., and an M.A. in Buddhist Studies from the University of Michigan. His research employs a micro-historical approach based on regional documents to reevaluate the role of Buddhism in daily life during the Edo period (1600-1868). Recently his interests have also turned to photographing the visual culture of modern Japanese religion and society. He joined Meiji Gakuin University in 2008, and was a founding member of the Department of Global and Transcultural Studies in 2011.

Luke Roberts (UC Santa Barbara):
Tosa’s Foreign Ties during Edo Period “Isolation”
Despite prohibitions of direct foreign contact during most of the Edo period, people of the domain of Tosa had many connections with and experiences of meeting with people from outside of Japan that linked them to informational networks spanning the world. This talk will center on the experiences of many foreign shipwrecks landing on the coast of Tosa and also discuss other connections to give a sense of Tosa domain’s ties to the world during this most unlikely time of “isolation.”

Luke Roberts received his BA in 1981 from Oberlin College where Prof. Ron DiCenzo got him interested in Japanese studies. Luke later studied Edo period history at Tokyo University as a research student under Prof. Kanai Madoka and Prof. Takagi Shosaku who got Luke interested in the history of the Tosa region. In 1991 Luke received his Phd at Princeton University under Prof. Marius Jansen and has since been working at UCSB. He is the author of Mercantilism in a Japanese Domain (1998) and Performing the Great Peace (2012) and coauthor with Sharon Takeda of Japanese Fishermen's Coats from Awaji Island (2002).