The Geography of Civilization

David L. Howell

in Geographies of Identity in Nineteenth-Century Japan

Published by University of California Press

Published in print July 2005 | ISBN: 9780520240858
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520930872 | DOI:
The Geography of Civilization

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This chapter investigates the association between civilization and barbarism as mediated by customs in the early modern period. After a short introductory discussion of the place of the Ezochi and the Ryukyu kingdom as peripheries of the early modern state, it examines the relationship between customs and status in the core polity and the marking of the Ainu alternately as barbarians and as Japanese through the deployment of customs. It tries to show that the geography of civilization was rooted in a spatial understanding of Japan's place in East Asia. The connection between customs and notions of civilization had deep roots in Confucian thought. Matsumae's attitude toward visible symbols of Ainu identity similarly reveals the nature of the civilizational boundary in Hokkaido. The Ainu's perception of both ritual and labor as forms of trade reflects the organic quality of the relationship.

Keywords: civilization; barbarism; Ainu; Matsumae; Hokkaido; customs

Chapter.  9603 words. 

Subjects: Asian History

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