Saturday, January 8, 2011: 9:40 AM
Room 303 (Hynes Convention Center)
Unauthorized movement was anathema to the basic tenants of the Tokugawa social order, and serious punishments awaited those involved in transgressions of either status or space. Well known are the many prohibitions designed to restrict movement between different social strata, and recent scholarship has also now begun to chart the ways in which pilgrimages and other forms of travel were often made subject to similarly stringent rules. Affiliations with local temples, registration in village associations, and a system of barriers, checkpoints, and official passes were all intended to stifle this movement. Nevertheless, by the eighteenth century there was a sizeable and growing population of unattached wanderers, individuals otherwise identified as “outsiders” by officials and increasingly viewed as a destabilizing force. With this historical context firmly in mind I aim to examine some of the many regulations concerning these “outsiders” that were sent to local villages during the mid to late eighteenth century and to suggest their impact on fostering a sense of instability and a perceived need for local self defense. For what started out as occasional warnings issued by the authorities calling for little more than an increased degree of vigilance appear to have gradually become, by the early decades of the nineteenth century, official permission for fearful villagers to take up arms and kill. “Outsiders” thus became “outlaws,” and while there may have been threatening elements within this wandering population, they were not, I will argue, nearly so dangerous as the laws designed to control them.
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