A Slumlord’s View of Tokyo at the Turn of the Twentieth Century

A Slumlord’s View of Tokyo at the Turn of the Twentieth Century

Jordan Sand - Professor of Japanese History, Georgetown University

Thursday, February 24, 2022 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Room 203, Henry R. Luce Hall See map
34 Hillhouse Avenue
New Haven, CT 06511

In 1903, Ōsaki Tatsugorō, builder and manager of some 1,100 slum houses in Tokyo, dictated his autobiography. This talk draws on the autobiography to examine the social context and the economic calculus underlying the construction of the city’s sprawling working-class periphery. Ōsaki’s story reveals a transitional moment in the city’s history, before a land-centered real estate market governed by contracts and planning regulations redefined the economics of housing. His building practice is shown to be part of an economy of circulation rather than accumulation, bearing traits in common with informal economies in many present-day megacities.

Jordan Sand is Professor of Japanese History at Georgetown University (Joint Appointment, Waseda University). He holds a masters degree in architecture history from the University of Tokyo and a doctorate in history from Columbia University. His research focuses on urbanism, material culture and the history of everyday life. He is the author of House and Home in Modern Japan, Tokyo Vernacular: Common Spaces, Local Histories, Found Objects (University of California Press, 2013) and 帝国日本の生活空間 (Living Spaces of Imperial Japan; Iwanami shoten, 2015). He is presently researching informal settlements in Asian cities.


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