The objective of this long-term project is to change the angle of view and look at the world from « Kyūshū ». The « Kyūshū » is understood here as a complex geographical and cultural area, without borders, connected by multiple networks to the mainland, the kingdom of Ryūkyū, Southeast Asia and the central regions of Japan. On the one hand, we will try to deepen our knowledge of the particularities of the domains established on this territory (Satsuma, Kumamoto, in particular) through the study of their history, their resources, their rivalries or complicity, their relationship with the central power. The focus will be on the land and sea communication axes, both inside and outside Kyūshū. On the other hand, we will try to sketch a “global microhistory” of the Kyūshū: by placing the island in its international environment, it becomes possible to « globalize » the history of this territory and to examine events whose impact may have been significant at different scales, locally, regionally or globally.
To achieve this objective, we will be careful not to impose excessively strict time-limits: the project will span the medieval period (the era of Japanese piracy) up to the first decades of the Meiji era, although the period extending from the 16th to the mid-nineteenth century remains our main research focus.
Axis 1: A history of migration
The Kyūshū is probably the island in Japan that absorbed the largest number of foreign-born populations during the early modern period. These were often people who were welcomed for their craftsmanship and skills, such as Korean potters, but also scholars, Buddhist monks and doctors of Chinese origin. The treatment of shipwrecked individuals and loyalist refugees will also be addressed. The presence of a European population – officially reduced to the Dutch from the middle of the 17th century – also attracts attention, as well as that of East Asian communities. It is also too often forgotten that a portion of the population of the domains of Kyūshū and Nagasaki maintained, because of their profession, close ties with foreigners. This is the case in particular of intermediaries such as interpreters, but also for Japanese people in contact with inhabitants of the kingdom of Ryūkyū, that of Korea and the Indochinese peninsula.
Axis 2: An economic history
Trade was flourishing in some port cities of Kyūshū: Nagasaki, Hakata, Kagoshima, Imari, Moji, etc.. The economic weight of Kyūshū domains and the merchants of Nagasaki could be addressed through collaborations with specialists in this area in Japan, the Netherlands, Korea, China or Vietnam. We might also suppose that a specific economy was developed, in Nagasaki in particular, because of the presence of foreign merchants: activities such as rearing of animals or the production of porcelain for export come to mind. It is also necessary to add the smuggling trade, undoubtedly not negligible, but which historians have not yet explored much.
Axis 3: A cultural and religious history
Between the 16th and the 19th centuries, the Kyūshū region was a setting for the encounter and confrontation between different religions. It is the region where converts were concentrated at the time of the Christian century, but also the one that welcomed many Buddhist monks from the continent. The imprint of the Shinto ideas is also deep, and this, from the first decades of the 17th century, even if the subject has not received much attention so far. More than the history of these religions taken one by one, we will be interested in the history of encounters, crossings and hybridizations.
In the same way, the Kyūshū domains have been the privileged place of reception of knowledge and techniques. The city of Nagasaki is well known for being an important place for the circulation of books. However, existing studies have not thoroughly examined the role played by the scholars of this city and of the Kyūshū domains; nor have they explored the specific culture that certainly developed in the region, on account both of its rich history and the many opportunities for contact it offered between merchants of foreign backgrounds, and of the greater access it provided to Chinese or Dutch books.
history of Japan early modern history
Annick Horiuchi (Université de Paris)
Martin Nogueira Ramos (École française d'Extrême-Orient)
Charlotte von Verschuer (École Pratique des Hautes Études)
François Lachaud (École française d'Extrême-Orient)
Frédéric Girard (École française d'Extrême-Orient)
Pierre-Emmanuel Roux (Université de Paris)
Noriko Berlinguez-Kono (University of Lille)
Alexandre Roy (IFRAE)
Akiyo Kudō-Herledant (Phd student IFRAE)
Nicolas Mollard (Université de Lyon)
Damien Peladan (post-doctoral student CCJ)
Rebekah Clements (ICREA Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)
Wim Boot (Leiden University)