To the Ends of Japan: Premodern Frontiers, Boundaries, and Interactions

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University of Hawaii Press, 2003 - History - 337 pages
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What is Japan? Who are its people? These questions are among those addressed in Bruce Batten's ambitious study of Japan's historical development through the nineteenth century. Traditionally, Japan has been portrayed as a homogenous society formed over millennia in virtual isolation. Social historians and others have begun to question this view, emphasizing diversity and interaction, both within the Japanese archipelago and between Japan and other parts of Eurasia. Until now, however, no book has attempted to resolve these conflicting views in a comprehensive, systematic way. To the Ends of Japan tackles the big questions on Japan by focusing on its borders, broadly defined to include historical frontiers and boundaries within the islands themselves as well as the obvious coastlines and oceans. Batten provides compelling arguments for viewing borders not as geographic givens, but as social constructs whose location and significance can, and do, change over time. By giving separate treatment to the historical development of political, cultural, and ethnic borders in the archipelago, he highlights the complex, multifaceted nature of Japanese society, without losing sight of the m
 

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User Review  - Shrike58 - LibraryThing

While readable, this monograph on the cultural, economic, and political boundaries relevant to Japan presumes a fair amount of background study. On one hand, Batten examines how Japan essentially ... Read full review

Contents

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Page 25 - In the modern conception, state sovereignty is fully, flatly, and evenly operative over each square centimetre of a legally demarcated territory. But in the older imagining, where states were defined by centres, borders were porous and indistinct, and sovereignties faded imperceptibly into one another.

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About the author (2003)

Bruce L. Batten is professor of Japanese history and director of the Center for International Studies at Obirin University, Tokyo.

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