The seminar's members, representing the full range of academic disciplines that bear upon the study of Japan and including Japan specialists from government, business, and the nonprofit sectors, meet regularly to discuss scholarly papers on all aspects of modern Japan, from history, literature, art, and the performing arts to politics, economics, social issues, and the US-Japan bilateral relationship.

Seminar: #445

Founded: 1960

May 22, 2008

May 8, 2009
Daniel Botsman (NC Chapel Hills)
Flowery Tales: Ōe Taku, Outcasts and the Meaning of Meiji Japan's “Emancipatory Moment”

This paper will explore the background to the so-called "Emancipation Edict for Outcasts" (buraku kaihōrei) issued by Japan's Meiji government in 1871. It focuses on the role of Ōe Taku (1847-1921), the official who is generally credited with having first proposed the Edict, but also delves into the social history of one particular outcast community on the outskirts of the newly opened treaty port of Kobe, which Ōe later claimed inspired his interest in the issue. At a thematic level, the paper considers how experiences and stories that carry localized meanings at one point in time come to be appropriated and woven into larger narratives of progress and nation in modern Japan."

Discussant: David Howell (Princeton)