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Stranger in the Shogun's City: A Japanese Woman and Her Worlds,1821-1862
Amy Stanley, Northwestern University
Grant details: https://securegrants.neh.gov/publicquery/main.aspx?f=1&gn=FA-58189-15
"Maidservants' Tales: Narrating Domestic and Global History, 1600-1900" (Article)
Title: "Maidservants' Tales: Narrating Domestic and Global History, 1600-1900"
Author: Amy Stanley
Abstract: Microhistory and global history are often seen as opposing strategies of historical inquiry, with irreconcilable research methods, central questions, and strategies of narration. This article combines both approaches, telling the story of a nineteenth-century Japanese maidservant both as a microhistory and as a global history. The maidservant, Tsuneno, is not an obvious protagonist for a global history. She never manufactured a product for export, conversed with a foreign person, wore imported cloth, or traveled beyond the shogun’s realm. Yet her experience of urban migration, service work, and marriage resembled those of other women across Eurasia in the years between 1600 and 1900. Situating Tsuneno’s mundane story in both local and global frames challenges the microhistorical approach by considering how questions of agency might be answered with reference to transnational and long-term trends as well as close attention to intimate contexts. It also shows how attention to overlooked historical actors might challenge the periodization and spatial imagination of global history. Maidservants’ tales do not show us a world divided between “Europe” and “Asia,” or a sudden break that occurred with the industrial revolution, but continuities across space and time.
Primary URL: http://ahr.oxfordjournals.org/content/121/2.toc
Periodical Title: American Historical Review Vol. 121, No. 2 (April 2016:437-460)