Open Edo Core Program | Conference 1: Global Edo: Edo in the World and the World in Edo

Fri 10/13/2023 • 10AM - 5PM PDT

William Andrews Clark Memorial Library

The subject of this initial conference is the longstanding myth that Japan was hermetically sealed from the rest of the world from the 1630s to 1853. While international travel and trade were indeed forbidden, Japan remained networked with those beyond its shores through trade with the continent, the Dutch, the Ainu, and the Ryukyus. During this period, fantasies of Japan proliferated abroad, just as fantasies of the outside world proliferated in Japan. Yet the restrictions on international exchange did not mean that Japan was somehow isolated from modernity. In fact, the metropolis of Edo actually exhibited many of the aspects that would later come to be seen as “modern” by the European definition of the term. Put more forcefully, early modernity seemed to thrive in a society that eschewed the Eurocentric model of “globalization.” Likewise, one should not conflate the Edo metropolis with the eponymous era, for an exciting feature of early modern Japan is the existence of multiple metropolitan centers, from Osaka and Kyoto to Nagasaki. This initial conference will reframe the Edo period in more porous, global, networked, and dynamic terms.

The conference is free to attend with advance registration. The full conference schedule and registration form are available on our event website.

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Center for 17th- & 18th-Century Studies