Beyond Diplomacy: Tokugawa Japan’s Changing Relations with Southeast Asia in the Seventeenth Century

Beyond Diplomacy: Tokugawa Japan’s Changing Relations with Southeast Asia in the Seventeenth Century

Adam Clulow - Senior Lecturer, School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies, Monash University

Wednesday, February 25, 2015 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm
Room 203, Henry R. Luce Hall See map
34 Hillhouse Avenue
New Haven, CT 06511

The early seventeenth century saw an unprecedented surge in connections between Japan and states across Southeast Asia. Japanese merchants, mercenaries and migrants started to appear in large numbers in ports across the region while the first Tokugawa shogun exchanged regular correspondence with a diverse array of rulers and officials. This began to change, however, in the 1620s as the Tokugawa regime severed these connections by rejecting a string of incoming diplomatic letters and embassies. This paper explores this process of diplomatic retreat but argues that it was accompanied by a remarkable expansion of Tokugawa legal networks as officials based especially in Nagasaki began to intervene in incidents of maritime violence that had taken place in distant ports or on the sea lanes connecting entrepôts across Southeast Asia with Japanese markets. The paper concludes by focusing on two cases involving the Tokugawa Bakufu, the Dutch East India Company and Chinese mariners that provide clear evidence of the legal entanglements binding early modern Japan to the lands below the winds.

Adam Clulow is a historian based in the School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies at Monash University. His research focuses broadly on European expansion into early modern Asia. His first book, The Company and the Shogun: The Dutch Encounter with Tokugawa Japan, was published by Columbia University Press in 2013. He has held fellowships from the Australian Research Council, the Japan Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and in 2013-14 served as a Fung Global Fellow at Princeton University. He hold degrees from the University of Kwazulu-Natal in South Africa and Niigata University in Japan, and received his PhD in East Asian History from Columbia University in 2008. He has taught at Monash since 2008. 

Co-sponsored by the Southeast Asia Studies Council at Yale
Japan, Transregional, Southeast Asia