CJS Research Webinar: The Eastern cousins of European sovereign states? Territorial sovereignty in early modern Japan

Thursday 13 October
13:00-14:00 BST
Zoom Webinar

About the Talk

The conventional accounts of the history of the sovereign state system assume that territorial sovereignty originated in Europe and spread to the rest of the world through colonial expansion. This implies that the components of the sovereign state, including territory, government, and national identity, had not existed outside of Europe before other societies encountered the West. Focusing on early modern Japan, I challenge that assumption by showing that there was a similar state system outside of Europe that developed in parallel with its European counterpart. In this talk, I will mainly focus on a recently accepted paper on the development of linear borders and discuss how I plan to develop the project into a book. Through an investigation of boundary disputes, boundary markers, and map-making during the Edo period (1603–1868), the paper demonstrates that linear borders were not foreign to early modern Japan. Domains in Edo Japan were already well into the process of building a territorial order with demarcated borders and mutual exclusion. This project intends to fill the gaps in both international relations and Japanese studies by debunking the myth in the former and placing early modern Japan in the contemporary international context.

About the Speaker

Naosuke Mukoyama is an Associate Professor of Security Studies at the Institute for Future Initiatives of the University of Tokyo. His research interests include sovereignty and state formation, resource politics, and historical international relations. He recently submitted his first book manuscript on the impact of natural resources on the making of states and started his new project on territorial sovereignty in early modern Japan. Before joining UTokyo, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Politics and International Studies of the University of Cambridge.

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