2007, 2008, 2018
- Senior Lecturer
- Monash University
Mercenaries, Pirates, and Trade: Tokugawa Japan and the Dutch East India Company
In 1609, the Dutch East India Company founded its first East Asian base in Japan. The Company appeared at a critical juncture in Japanese history, as the newly established Tokugawa state (1603-1867) was in the process of consolidating its power both domestically and abroad. This dissertation focuses on the Dutch East India Company as a maritime and military power in East Asia, showing how the Company’s unregulated, violent activities precipitated a series of clashes with the Tokugawa state at the exact moment that the emerging Japanese polity sought to establish its legitimacy. Confrontations over the recruitment of Japanese mercenaries, Dutch privateering in Japanese waters, and the sovereignty of Taiwan pushed the Tokugawa state to define new forms of state control over its borders and subjects.
A Desperate and Warlike People: Japanese Mercenaries in Southeast Asia in the Seventeenth Century
Japanese mercenaries established themselves as a powerful force throughout Southeast Asia in the first decades of the seventeenth century. The successful career of these mercenaries ended abruptly in the 1630s as a result of maritime restrictions implemented by the early modern Tokugawa state (1600-1867). This research traces the evolution of the trade of Japanese mercenaries, exploring why so many Japanese decided to leave the archipelago to become mercenaries, why these mercenaries were drawn to Southeast Asia, and how the Tokugawa state suppressed the trade in mercenaries.
The Great Asian Deerskin Boom: Consumer Revolution, Inter-Asian Trade, and Environmental Degradation, 1600-1800
During the early modern period, the deerskin trade stretched across Asia, binding hunters, shippers, artisans, and consumers together in sprawling networks. Propelled by voracious demand for soft and pliable leather, hundreds of thousands of skins were shipped out each year, first, from hunting grounds across Southeast Asia and, later, from Ezo (Hokkaido) to Japan’s booming ports and cities. While a great deal is known about the wider impact of European consumers via their demand for commodities, this project examines how the purchasing choices of Asian consumers for the most quotidian of items—deerskin socks and purses—created a powerful, transregional engine that connected and transformed early modern Asia. Combining environmental, legal, social, and economic history, the project shows how the deerskin trade remade a vast region of the world, sparked the creation of new zones of maritime jurisdiction, and drove conflict between different status groups in Japan. Looking across the full extent of the deerskin commodity chain challenges the prevailing image of Tokugawa Japan as a uniquely sustainable society by showing how the green fields of the archipelago depended on the availability of a wider hinterland that could be tapped for natural resources to feed Japan’s consumer revolution. The project brings together historians Xing Hang, Daniel Botsman, and Adam Clulow. Hang has written widely on Chinese mercantile networks and port settlements in early modern maritime Asia with particular focus on Eurasian integration and economic transition. Botsman is a Tokugawa specialist with expertise in studying Japan’s outcaste communities. Clulow is an expert on the Dutch East India Company, trade between Southeast Asia and Japan and early modern legal networks. The three scholars have worked closely together on several previous collaborations including a series of chapters and a journal special issue. This project will result in a workshop and a series of joint publications, including a coauthored monograph. Award period: July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2021