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Products for grant HR-50399-08

HR-50399-08
Female Activists and Political Change During the 1868 Meiji Restoration in Japan
Laura Nenzi, Florida International University Board of Trustees

Grant details: https://securegrants.neh.gov/publicquery/main.aspx?f=1&gn=HR-50399-08

The Chaos and Cosmos of Kurosawa Tokiko: One Woman’s Transit from Tokugawa to Meiji Japan (Book)
Title: The Chaos and Cosmos of Kurosawa Tokiko: One Woman’s Transit from Tokugawa to Meiji Japan
Author: Laura Nenzi
Abstract: na
Year: 2015
Publisher: Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press
Type: Single author monograph
Copy sent to NEH?: Yes

The Chaos and Cosmos of Kurosawa Tokiko: One Woman’s Transit from Tokugawa to Meiji Japan (Book)
Title: The Chaos and Cosmos of Kurosawa Tokiko: One Woman’s Transit from Tokugawa to Meiji Japan
Author: Laura Nenzi
Abstract: The Chaos and Cosmos of Kurosawa Tokiko is the story of a self-described "base-born nobody" who tried to change the course of Japanese history and failed. Kurosawa Tokiko (1806–1890) was a poet, teacher, oracle, and political activist. In 1859 she traveled to Kyoto to denounce the shogun's policies before the emperor. She was arrested, taken to prison, and sentenced to banishment. In her later years Tokiko became an elementary school teacher and experienced firsthand the modernizing policies of the new Meiji government. After her death she was honored with court rank for her devotion to the loyalist cause. In the early twentieth century, she was reimagined in the popular press and her story was rewritten to offset fears about female autonomy and to boost local and national agendas. Tokiko's story offers a fresh narrative of the late-Tokugawa crisis, the collapse of the shogunate, and the rise of the modern Meiji state. The peculiar combination of no-nonsense single-mindedness and visionary flights of imagination evinced in her diaries and poetry collections nuances our understanding of activism and political consciousness among rural nonelites. Tokiko's use of prognostication and her appeals to cosmic forces point to the creative paths some women constructed to take part in political debates and epitomize the resourcefulness required to preserve one's identity in the face of changing times. That Tokiko was unimportant and her mission to Kyoto a failure is irrelevant. What is significant is that through her life story we are able to discern the ordinary individual in the midst of history. By putting an extra in the spotlight, The Chaos and Cosmos of Kurosawa Tokiko offers a new script for the drama that unfolded on the stage of late-Tokugawa and early Meiji history.
Year: 2015
Primary URL: http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/905734209
Primary URL Description: worldcat catalog
Secondary URL: https://www.uhawaiipress.com/p-9321-9780824839574.aspx
Secondary URL Description: publisher's website
Publisher: University of Hawai’i Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 9780824839574
Copy sent to NEH?: Yes

Portents and Politics: Two Women Activists on the Verge of the Meiji Restoration (Article)
Title: Portents and Politics: Two Women Activists on the Verge of the Meiji Restoration
Author: Laura Nenzi
Abstract: This essay examines the deployment of revelations and prophetic dreams in the writings of two female political activists of the bakumatsu period, Kurosawa Tokiko and Nomura Boto. As a rhetorical device, the supernatural enabled Kurosawa and Nomura to foster their affiliation with the loyalists, to envision order, and to justify their actions. As a weapon and as a shield, it offered a sense of entitlement and the illusion of invulnerability. Studies of late-Tokugawa ideology often emphasize its rational qualities; these two case studies, however, shed new light on the multifaceted expressions of political activism on the verge of the Meiji Restoration.
Year: 2012
Primary URL: http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/5183735000
Primary URL Description: worldcat entry
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: Journal of Japanese Studies 38:1
Publisher: Journal of Japanese Studies

Caught in the Spotlight: The 1858 Comet and Late-Tokugawa Japan (Article)
Title: Caught in the Spotlight: The 1858 Comet and Late-Tokugawa Japan
Author: Laura Nenzi
Abstract: In the fall of 1858 a large comet crossed the skies of Japan. Casting its light over a society in turmoil, torn apart by political factionalism and threatened by a virulent cholera epidemic, economic collapse, and foreign encroachment, the 1858 comet quickly became the centerpiece of diverging interpretations on the state of society, the country, or the world in general. To some, the ‘strange star’ was an ominous symbol of impending catastrophe, while others saw it as the broom that would sweep away the misery of old and usher in a much-needed world renewal. Through an examination of personal diaries, official records, astronomers’ reports, and popular literature, this article argues that the 1858 comet served as versatile metaphor for all that was frightening, puzzling, or inspiring about life at the twilight of the Tokugawa era
Year: 2011
Primary URL: http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/4839416032
Primary URL Description: worldcat entry
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: Japan Forum
Publisher: Japan Forum

Chiiki shakai ni okeru josei to seiji: Kurosawa Tokiko o chushin ni (in Japanese) (Women and Politics in Regional Society: The Case of Kurosawa Tokiko) (Book Section)
Title: Chiiki shakai ni okeru josei to seiji: Kurosawa Tokiko o chushin ni (in Japanese) (Women and Politics in Regional Society: The Case of Kurosawa Tokiko)
Author: Laura Nenzi
Editor: Meiji Ishin Shigakkai
Abstract: n.a.
Year: 2015
Primary URL: http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/902996400
Primary URL Description: worldcat entry
Publisher: Yushisha
Book Title: Meiji Ishin to josei (The Meiji Restoration and Women)
ISBN: 978490342692

“A Space to Escape, A Space to Engage: Nomura Boto’s Retreat, 1845-1865” (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: “A Space to Escape, A Space to Engage: Nomura Boto’s Retreat, 1845-1865”
Author: Laura Nenzi
Abstract: The same space could be simultaneously assigned multiple and even conflicting values reflecting the aspirations and agendas of different observers. At the same time, the same space could acquire different meanings in the eyes of the same beholder. Personal experiences and mutating historical circumstances determined how the same person would relate to the same space at different points in time. The production of space, in other words, was open-ended even when it was not multi-vocal. This paper uses the poems, letters, and diaries of the Fukuoka poet, nun, and loyalist Nomura Boto (1806-67) to examine the various meanings she attached to her retreat in Hirao. Boto moved to the retreat in 1845. Over the next twenty years, in parallel with changes in her personal life and in the political landscape of the country writ large, the Hirao retreat came to symbolize escapism and engagement, loss and gain, the unbearable sadness of the present and the uplifting joy of timelessness. While Boto reinvented the space of the retreat many times over, I suggest that the opposite was also true: the space transformed Boto in return, affording her opportunities that her physical body otherwise denied her and enabling her to transition from one phase of her life to the next. The production of space was thus a two-way process: the observer created a space, while the space reinvented its creator in return.
Date: 03/20/2014
Conference Name: Annual Meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, Philadelphia

A Loyalist Mission Behind the Scenes: The Many Networks of Kurosawa Tokiko (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: A Loyalist Mission Behind the Scenes: The Many Networks of Kurosawa Tokiko
Author: Laura Nenzi
Abstract: This paper examines the social and economic networks of Kurosawa Tokiko (1806-1890), a female loyalist from Mito domain. In the fall of 1858 Tokiko joined the sonno joi movement in criticizing the Tokugawa government and advocating the expulsion of the foreign barbarians. In the spring of the following year she traveled to Kyoto to denounce the misguided Tokugawa policies before emperor Komei. Much has been made, in twentieth century works, of Tokiko’s “solitary” mission to Kyoto; she has been hailed for her bravery and determination in embarking on such a mission alone, despite being a woman. Tokiko herself, in the diary of her Kyoto journey, mentions the difficulties she faced for being a solitary traveler. If we look closely behind the scenes, however, we will discover a much more intricate picture than the simplistic (but irresistible) “woman travels alone” headline. Tokiko lived and worked at the intersection of several circles and neither her political education nor her journey to the capital occurred in a vacuum. An array of different social and economic networks borne out of her professional life and personal interests facilitated her access to information and provided concrete on-the-ground support before, during, and after the Kyoto mission.
Date: 06/10/2013
Conference Name: Symposium Women and Networks in Nineteenth Century Japan, Sophia University, Tokyo

“The Many Reincarnations of a Bakumatsu Woman: Mobility and Female Agency in Historical Interpretation” (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: “The Many Reincarnations of a Bakumatsu Woman: Mobility and Female Agency in Historical Interpretation”
Author: Laura Nenzi
Abstract: This paper examines the case study of Kurosawa Tokiko, a woman and political activist from the late Tokugawa period, and the various ways in which the story of her political awakening and of her subsequent 1859 undercover journey from Mito to Kyoto was told and retold in the twentieth century. The many historiographical reincarnations of Tokiko as a “woman in transit” reveal various and sometimes contrasting degrees of agency and ability to call the shots – she is alternatively portrayed as a victim of circumstances or hailed as the epitome of a free, independent, untamed spirit that all women (and even some men) should emulate. The various mutations of Tokiko in history suggest that female agency is a slippery notion and that the same individual could be presented as the maker of his or her own destiny or as a pawn in a game played by others simply by the use of a few strategic keywords and meaningful visual representations.
Date: 04/20/2011
Conference Name: Annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, Honolulu

Ghosts, Visions, and Prophecies in Late-Tokugawa Political Debates (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Ghosts, Visions, and Prophecies in Late-Tokugawa Political Debates
Author: Laura Nenzi
Abstract: The supernatural and inexplicable comes in handy in times of crisis as a way of explaining the unexplainable or justifying extreme measures. Late-Tokugawa Japan was one such times of crisis. Political upheaval spurred by arrival of Perry and the opening of treaty ports, coupled with extensive crop failures, rice riots, natural disasters, and a cholera epidemic, generated tensions and, in the eyes of many, underscored the ineptitude of the ruling class. Because of the numerous challenges it faced, late-Tokugawa Japan offered fertile ground for divination. Appeals to cosmic forces took many forms, from the observation of the heavens to the interpretation of dreams or the “reading” of perfectly natural phenomena as political omens. In this paper I present the case studies of three women who were witnesses to and involved with the political debate of the bakumatsu. By measuring the degree to which they linked (or, in one case, de-linked) politics to visions, dreams, and ghosts, I will make a case for the various rhetorical strategies deployed to endorse one’s political views in the face of an ongoing and complex debate.
Date: 03/15/2010
Conference Name: Southern Japan Seminar, Miami

A Woman’s Life Between the Lines: The 1858 Diary of Kurosawa Tokiko (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: A Woman’s Life Between the Lines: The 1858 Diary of Kurosawa Tokiko
Author: Laura Nenzi
Abstract: My paper examines the daily life of Kurosawa Tokiko (1806-1890) in the fall of 1858. At the time Tokiko, who lived in Mito domain, was a fifty-three year old widowed mother of two who ran a small temple school (terakoya) annexed to her house and offered fortunetelling services. Her Diary of Ansei Five (Ansei gonen nikkicho) reveals a Tokiko who is not the politically inflamed activist and the visionary of her later writings, but a woman who deals with mischievous students, pickles eggplants, drinks with her neighbors, tends to the garden, and practices divination. My first goal is to inscribe the life of an ordinary person within the frame of the momentous events that defined Japanese politics and society in the summer and fall of 1858, and to assess their impact and the degree to which they were perceived among commoners. Secondly, I want to complicate the image of Kurosawa Tokiko by adding such elements as family, community, and economy to what would otherwise be strictly a political story.
Date: 03/27/2009
Conference Name: Annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, Chicago

The Chaos and Cosmos of Kurosawa Tokiko (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: The Chaos and Cosmos of Kurosawa Tokiko
Author: Laura Nenzi
Abstract: n.a.
Date: 02/18/2014
Conference Name: Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton

Working and Networking in Late-Tokugawa Japan (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Working and Networking in Late-Tokugawa Japan
Author: Laura Nenzi
Abstract: This paper looks at the ways in which selling combs, running a terakoya, offering divination services, and participating in bunjin circles enabled a 19th century female loyalist (Kurosawa Tokiko) to create a network of supporters that ultimately sustained her attempt to denounce the misguided Tokugawa policies in the wake of the Ansei Purges (1859).I will trace the contours of Tokiko’s circles and show how, in her case, working and networking were deeply interconnected – Tokiko drew circles around her many “occupations.” I define occupations broadly to include both pastimes, jobs that resulted in remuneration, and activities that enabled her to carve a niche in the social fabric of her village and of the surrounding areas. I do so with the understanding that to Tokiko “pastime” or “job” would not necessarily have been two separate categories – they were both occasions to display certain skills.
Date: 03/03/2013
Conference Name: Workshop: Work in Early Modern Japan: Precarious Pasts, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Bakumatsu jidai no kinnoka no josei: Mito-han no Kurosawa Tokiko” (in Japanese) (A Female Loyalist of the Bakumatsu Period: Mito Domain’s Kurosawa Tokiko (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Bakumatsu jidai no kinnoka no josei: Mito-han no Kurosawa Tokiko” (in Japanese) (A Female Loyalist of the Bakumatsu Period: Mito Domain’s Kurosawa Tokiko
Author: Laura Nenzi
Abstract: n.a.
Date: 02/18/2011
Conference Name: National Museum of History and Folklore (Kokuritsu Rekishi Minzoku Hakubutsukan), Sakura, Chiba, Jap

Portents and Politics in Late-Tokugawa Japan: Kurosawa Tokiko and the Comet of 1858 (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Portents and Politics in Late-Tokugawa Japan: Kurosawa Tokiko and the Comet of 1858
Author: Laura Nenzi
Abstract: n.a.
Date: 11/20/2009
Conference Name: University of Vermont


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