front cover of Cultural Worlds of the Jesuits in Colonial Latin America
Cultural Worlds of the Jesuits in Colonial Latin America
Edited by Linda Newson
University of London Press, 2020
The Jesuits’ colonial legacy in Latin America is well-known. They pioneered an interest in indigenous languages and cultures, compiling dictionaries and writing some of the earliest ethnographies of the region. They also explored the region’s natural history and made significant contributions to the development of science and medicine. On their estates and in the missions they introduced new plants, livestock, and agricultural techniques, such as irrigation. In addition, they left a lasting legacy on the region’s architecture, art, and music. The volume demonstrates the diversity of Jesuit contributions to Latin American culture. This volume is unique in considering not only the range of Jesuit activities but also the diversity of perspectives from which they may be approached. It includes papers from scholars of history, linguistics, religion, art, architecture, cartography, music, medicine and science.

front cover of Daily Life and Demographics in Ancient Japan
Daily Life and Demographics in Ancient Japan
William Wayne Farris
University of Michigan Press, 2009
For centuries, scholars have wondered what daily life was like for the common people of Japan, especially for long bygone eras such as the ancient age (700–1150). Using the discipline of historical demography, William Wayne Farris shows that for most of this era, Japan’s overall population hardly grew at all, hovering around six million for almost five hundred years.
The reasons for the stable population were complex. Most importantly, Japan was caught up in an East Asian pandemic that killed both aristocrat and commoner in countless numbers every generation. These epidemics of smallpox, measles, mumps, and dysentery decimated the adult population, resulting in wide-ranging social and economic turmoil. Famine recurred about once every three years, leaving large proportions of the populace malnourished or dead. Ecological degradation of central Japan led to an increased incidence of drought and soil erosion. And war led soldiers to murder innocent bystanders in droves.
Under these harsh conditions, agriculture suffered from high rates of field abandonment and poor technological development. Both farming and industry shifted increasingly to labor-saving technologies. With workers at a premium, wages rose. Traders shifted from the use of money to barter. Cities disappeared. The family was an amorphous entity, with women holding high status in a labor-short economy. Broken families and an appallingly high rate of infant mortality were also part of kinship patterns. The average family lived in a cold, drafty dwelling susceptible to fire, wore clothing made of scratchy hemp, consumed meals just barely adequate in the best of times, and suffered from a lack of sanitary conditions that increased the likelihood of disease outbreak. While life was harsh for almost all people from 700 to 1150, these experiences represented investments in human capital that would bear fruit during the medieval epoch (1150–1600).

logo for Harvard University Press
Dancing the Dharma
Religious and Political Allegory in Japanese Noh Theater
Susan Blakeley Klein
Harvard University Press, 2021
Dancing the Dharma examines the theory and practice of allegory by exploring a select group of medieval Japanese noh plays and treatises. Susan Blakeley Klein demonstrates how medieval esoteric commentaries on the tenth-century poem-tale Ise monogatari (Tales of Ise) and the first imperial waka poetry anthology Kokin wakashū influenced the plots, characters, imagery, and rhetorical structure of seven plays (Maiguruma, Kuzu no hakama, Unrin’in, Oshio, Kakitsubata, Ominameshi, and Haku Rakuten) and two treatises (Zeami’s Rikugi and Zenchiku’s Meishukushū). In so doing, she shows that it was precisely the allegorical mode—vital to medieval Japanese culture as a whole—that enabled the complex layering of character and poetic landscape we typically associate with noh. Klein argues that understanding noh’s allegorical structure and paying attention to the localized historical context for individual plays are key to recovering their original function as political and religious allegories. Now viewed in the context of contemporaneous beliefs and practices of the medieval period, noh plays take on a greater range and depth of meaning and offer new insights to readers today into medieval Japan.

front cover of The Darker Side of the Renaissance
The Darker Side of the Renaissance
Literacy, Territoriality, & Colonization, 2nd Edition
Walter D. Mignolo
University of Michigan Press, 2003
The Darker Side of the Renaissance weaves together literature, semiotics, history, historiography, cartography, and cultural theory to examine the role of language in the colonization of the New World. Exploring the many connections among writing, social organization, and political control, including how alphabetic writing is linked with the exercise of power, Walter D. Mignolo claims that European forms of literacy were at the heart of New World colonization. It has long been acknowledged that Amerindians were at a disadvantage in facing European invaders because native cultures did not employ the same kind of texts (hence "knowledge") that the Europeans valued. Yet no one but Mignolo has so thoroughly examined either the process or the implications of conquest and destruction through language. The book continues to challenge commonplace understandings of New World history and to stimulate new colonial and postcolonial scholarship.
Walter D. Mignolo is Professor in the Department of Romance Studies and the Program in Literature, Duke University.

front cover of The Darker Side of the Renaissance
The Darker Side of the Renaissance
Literacy, Territoriality, and Colonization
Walter D. Mignolo
University of Michigan Press, 1995
Winner of the Modern Language Association's Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize.
The Darker Side of the Renaissance weaves together literature, semiotics, history, historiography, cartography, geography, and cultural theory to examine the role of language in the colonization of the New World.
Walter D. Mignolo locates the privileging of European forms of literacy at the heart of New World colonization. He examines how alphabetic writing is linked with the exercise of power, what role "the book" has played in colonial relations, and the many connections between writing, social organization, and political control. It has long been acknowledged that Amerindians were at a disadvantage in facing European invaders because native cultures did not employ the same kind of texts (hence "knowledge") that were validated by the Europeans. Yet no study until this one has so thoroughly analyzed either the process or the implications of conquest and destruction through sign systems.
Starting with the contrasts between Amerindian and European writing systems, Mignolo moves through such topics as the development of Spanish grammar, the different understandings of the book as object and text, principles of genre in history-writing, and an analysis of linguistic descriptions and mapping techniques in relation to the construction of territoriality and understandings of cultural space.
The Darker Side of the Renaissance will significantly challenge commonplace understandings of New World history. More importantly, it will continue to stimulate and provide models for new colonial and post-colonial scholarship.
". . . a contribution to Renaissance studies of the first order. The field will have to reckon with it for years to come, for it will unquestionably become the point of departure for discussion not only on the foundations and achievements of the Renaissance but also on the effects and influences on colonized cultures." -- Journal of Hispanic/ Latino Theology
Walter D. Mignolo is Professor in the Department of Romance Studies and the Program in Literature, Duke University.

front cover of Good Faith and Truthful Ignorance
Good Faith and Truthful Ignorance
A Case of Transatlantic Bigamy
Alexandra Parma Cook and Noble David Cook
Duke University Press, 1991
Good Faith and Truthful Ignorance uncovers from history the fascinating and strange story of Spanish explorer Francisco Noguerol de Ulloa. in 1556, accompanied by his second wife, Francisco returned to his home in Spain after a profitable twenty-year sojourn in the new world of Peru. However, unlike most other rich conquistadores who returned to the land of their birth, Francisco was not allowed to settle into a life of leisure. Instead, he was charged with bigamy and illegal shipment of silver, was arrested and imprisoned. Francisco’s first wife (thought long dead) had filed suit in Spain against her renegade husband.
So begins the labyrinthine legal tale and engrossing drama of an explorer and his two wives, skillfully reconstructed through the expert and original archival research of Alexandra Parma Cook and Noble David Cook. Drawing on the remarkable records from the trial, the narrative of Francisco’s adventures provides a window into daily life in sixteenth-century Spain, as well as the mentalité and experience of conquest and settlement of the New World. Told from the point of view of the conquerors, Francisco’s story reveals not only the lives of the middle class and minor nobility but also much about those at the lower rungs of the social order and relations between the sexes.
In the tradition of Carlo Ginzberg’s The Cheese and the Worms and Natalie Zemon Davis’ The Return of Martin Guerre, Good Faith and Truthful Ignorance illuminates an historical period—the world of sixteenth-century Spain and Peru—through the wonderful and unusual story of one man and his two wives.

logo for Harvard University Press
Itineraries of Power
Texts and Traversals in Heian and Medieval Japan
Terry Kawashima
Harvard University Press, 2016

Movements—of people and groups, through travel, migration, exile, and diaspora—are central to understanding both local and global power relationships. But what of more literary moves: textual techniques such as distinct patterns of narrative flow, abrupt leaps between genres, and poetic figures that flatten geographical distance? This book examines what happens when both types of tropes—literal traversals and literary shifts—coexist.

Itineraries of Power examines prose narratives and poetry of the mid-Heian to medieval eras (900–1400) that conspicuously feature tropes of movement. Kawashima argues that the appearance of a character’s physical motion, alongside literary techniques identified with motion, is a textual signpost in a story, urging readers to focus on how the work conceptualizes relations of power and claims to authority. From the gendered intersection of register shifts in narrative and physical displacement in the Heian period, to a dizzying tale of travel retold multiple times in a single medieval text, the motion in these works gestures toward internal conflicts and alternatives to existing structures of power. The book concludes that texts crucially concerned with such tropes of movement suggest that power is always simultaneously manufactured and dismantled from within.


logo for Harvard University Press
The Making of Shinkokinshū
Robert N. Huey
Harvard University Press, 2002

This study of the Japanese imperial court in the early thirteenth century focuses on the compilation of one of Japan’s most important poetry collections, Shinkokinshū. Using personal diaries, court records, poetry texts, and literary treatises, Robert N. Huey reconstructs the process by which Retired Emperor Go-Toba brought together contending factions to produce this collection and laid the groundwork for his later attempt at imperial restoration. The work analyzes how poetic discourse of the imperial court animated both other kinds of writing and other activities. Finally, it underscores the inextricable ties between the writing of poetry and court politics.

Shinkokinshū—the “New Kokinshu”—has been viewed as a neo-classical effort. Reading history backward, scholars have often taken the work to be the outgrowth of a nostalgia for greatness presumed to have been lost in the wars of the origins of the collection. The author argues that the compilers of Shinkokinshū instead saw it as a “new” beginning, a revitalization and affirmation of courtly traditions, and not a reaction to loss. It is a dynamic collection, full of innovative, challenging poetry—not an elegy for a lost age.


front cover of Pictures of the Heart
Pictures of the Heart
The Hyakunin Isshu in Word and Image
Joshua S. Mostow
University of Michigan Press, 2015
The Hyakunin Isshu, or One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each collection, is a sequence of one hundred Japanese poems in the tanka form, selected by the famous poet and scholar Fujiwara no Teika (1162-1241) and arranged, in part, to represent the history of Japanese poetry from the seventh century down to Teika's own day. The anthology is, without doubt, the most popular and widely known collection of poetry in Japan - a distinction it has maintained for hundreds of years. In this study, Joshua Mostow challenges the idea of a final or authoritative reading of the Hyakunin Isshu and presents a refreshing, persuasive case for a reception history of this seminal work.
In addition to providing a new translation of this classic text and biographical information on each poet, Mostow examines issues relating to text and image that are central to the Japanese arts from the Heian into the early modern period. By using Edo-period woodblock illustrations as pictorializations of the poems - as "pictures of the heart," or meaning, of the poems - text and image are pieced together in a holistic approach that will stand as a model for further research in the interrelationship between Japanese visual and verbal art. [A/GB]

logo for Harvard University Press
Reflecting the Past
Place, Language, and Principle in Japan’s Medieval Mirror Genre
Erin L. Brightwell
Harvard University Press, 2020

Reflecting the Past is the first English-language study to address the role of historiography in medieval Japan, an age at the time widely believed to be one of irreversible decline. Drawing on a decade of research, including work with medieval manuscripts, it analyzes a set of texts—eight Mirrors—that recount the past in an effort to order the world around them. They confront rebellions, civil war, “China,” attempted invasions, and even the fracturing of the court into two lines. To interrogate the significance for medieval writers of narrating such pasts as a Mirror, Erin Brightwell traces a series of innovations across these and related texts that emerge in the face of disorder. In so doing, she uncovers how a dynamic web of evolving concepts of time, place, language use, and cosmological forces was deployed to order the past in an age of unprecedented social movement and upheaval.

Despite the Mirrors’ common concerns and commitments, traditional linguistic and disciplinary boundaries have downplayed or obscured their significance for medieval thinkers. Through their treatment here as a multilingual, multi-structured genre, the Mirrors are revealed, however, as the dominant mode for reading and writing the past over almost three centuries of Japanese history.


front cover of Rethinking Japanese History
Rethinking Japanese History
Amino Yoshihiko; Translated and with an Introduction by Alan S. Christy; Preface and Afterword by Hitomi Tonomura
University of Michigan Press, 2012
In this fascinating journey across centuries, Amino Yoshihiko, the premier historian of medieval Japan, invites us to rethink everything we thought we knew about Japanese history. From reconsidering the roles of outcastes and outlaws, to the provenance of "Japan (Nihon)," to the very meaning of writing, Amino offers a powerful critique of the conventional wisdom about Japan's past. Instead of depicting Japan as an isolated island country full of immobile peasants dominated by swaggering warriors and an unbroken line of sacred emperors, he unveils a dynamic history of an archipelago driven by the competition to control trade and movement, in which warlords and aristocrats share the main stage with pirates, courtesans, beggars, and dancing monks.
Written for a nonspecialist audience and standing on a foundation of fifty years of research in a vast and eclectic range of primary sources, Rethinking Japanese History introduces the English reader to one of Japan's most original and provocative historians. Since the 1970s, Amino has inspired readers with his view of Japanese history "from the sea," in which the power politics of the samurai class were contrasted with the countervailing authorities of religious institutions, artisanal groups, and "lords of the sea" who enabled the movement of people and goods from the Asian continent to every harbor and village of Japan. In his portraits of an archaic and medieval past permeated with "places of freedom" and a grand struggle between ideologies of trade and agriculture, Amino challenged his contemporaries to reconsider not only their understanding of Japan's past, but also its present and future. Rethinking Japanese History calls on us to contemplate seriously the meaning of the deep past in our present day.

logo for Harvard University Press
Writing Margins
The Textual Construction of Gender in Heian and Kamakura Japan
Terry Kawashima
Harvard University Press, 2001

In texts from the mid-Heian to the early Kamakura periods, certain figures appear to be “marginal” or removed from “centers” of power. But why do we see these figures in this way?

This study first seeks to answer this question by examining the details of the marginalizing discourse found in these texts. Who is portraying whom as marginal? For what reason? Is the discourse consistent? The author next considers these texts in terms of the predilection of modern scholarship, both Japanese and Western, to label certain figures “marginal.” She then poses the question: Is this predilection a helpful tool or does it inscribe modern biases and misconceptions onto these texts?


Send via email Share on Facebook Share on Twitter