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Title: The 1860 Japanese Embassy and the opening of American civilization
Author: Doan, Natalia
ISNI:       0000 0004 8507 2942
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2020
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The 1860 Japanese Embassy to the United States sparked a whirlwind of national optimism and cultural fantasy that challenged America's linked conceptions of race, "civilization," and power. This dissertation argues that, over the brief course of the 1860 Japanese Embassy, the Japanese, and their interactions with those normally on the periphery of diplomatic narratives, opened various epistemic communities to new understandings of "civilization" and hierarchies of personhood as experienced through the lens of the role and future of Japan. At the same time, within the embassy itself, Sendai retainer Tamamushi Sadayū (1823-1869) rejected race and human exploitation as hierarchies of "civilization," separated morality from "Westernization," and perceived the intra-hierarchical compassion he believed he saw in America as the key to Japan's future political stability. Tamamushi's ideas and transnational experiences manifested themselves in his activity as a military commander for the Northern Alliance in the Boshin War (1868-1869). The new knowledge revealed by this study alters the historical understanding of the nineteenth-century Japanese influence on American intellectual discourse, as well as the dual narratives of kaikoku (Japan's "opening") and bunmei kaika ("civilization and enlightenment"), two of the defining periods in Japanese history. Analyzing the largely forgotten 1860 embassy reveals various local actors reimagining the place of Japan and themselves in the meaning and pursuit of a better world. This reshaping of various world visions inspired by encounters between the Japanese and transnational actors expands our understanding of the production of identity and solidarity, Japanese and American civil war history, the role of gender in interracial encounters, transnationalism, and Japan's shift from the Tokugawa to the Meiji era.
Supervisor: Konishi, Sho Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available