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Toward the late Tokugawa public sphere : dissent, remonstration, and agitation in the Settsu province Newmark, Jeffrey


This dissertation addresses the growth of the public sphere and its chief components through an examination of late eighteenth and nineteenth century cases of remonstration in Settsu, one of early modern Japan’s eighty provinces. Encompassing the city of Osaka and its twelve surrounding districts, Settsu served not only as the economic center of early modern Japan or the so-called “Country’s Kitchen,” but it also represented a hotbed of intellectual debate, social change, and most importantly for the purposes of this dissertation, discontent. These trends in social contention from Settsu further set the tone for dissent across early modern Japan in the 1800s. I adapt Jürgen Habermas’ model of a public sphere—a discursive arena between the official and domestic sphere where one may express him or herself on public matters—in formulating my own paradigm of the public sphere of late Tokugawa Japan. For late Tokugawa civil society, I define it as voluntary associations where those active in the public sphere may gather and formulate their thoughts. In addition to civil society, I include such elements as aesthetics, print literature, religious travel, the marketplace, entertainment, village affairs, and of course dissent within the public sphere. Employing primary documents from compendiums of early modern Japanese peasant uprisings, local histories, and secondary literature, I follow a chronological progression in outlining the public sphere’s development. Two chapters are devoted respectively to separate incidents in 1837, Ōshio Heihachirō’s Osaka uprising and Yamadaya Daisuke’s Nose riot, in order to account for individual interest as a contributor to the public sphere. The penultimate chapter departs from the chronological schema to analyze kokuso or interprovincial mercantile protests from the 1740s through the 1850s, thereby discussing the role of the marketplace in civil society and the public sphere. The dissertation’s conclusion first summarizes the principal contributors to Settsu’s public sphere. Then, it explores certain episodes of remonstration outside of Settsu to demonstrate the impact of the province’s social movements elsewhere in late Tokugawa Japan. Finally, it proposes that the Edo Bakufu had played a pivotal role in the public sphere’s development by the end of the Shogun’s rule.

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