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David Spafford
University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA 19104-6205)
The Corporate House in Japan, 1450-1650

Research and writing leading to publication of a book on the social functions of warrior houses during Japan’s long civil war (from 1455-1615).

This project studies the warrior house during Japan's long civil war (roughly, 1455-1615). It proposes that the house served as more than the basic unit of kinship. While warrior houses ("ie" in Japanese) have been viewed as either lineages or stem families, as organizations they were also inclusive of non-kin housemen, retainers who served the house head in a hereditary capacity and who played crucial roles in times of crisis (such as successions). While based on consanguinity and shared property and residence, houses also relied, for their survival, on the frequent adoption of heirs from distant kin and non-kin, suggesting that in fact they functioned more as corporate groups than as simple families. Rather than focus on its structure and origins, as previous studies have, this project will view the house as a locus of identity and as the fundamental nexus of social interaction, to understand how it provided stability and continuity in a time of political upheaval.

Project fields:
Cultural History; East Asian History; Women's History

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2016 – 6/30/2017