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Travel in Tokugawa Period Japan (1603-1868): Identity, Nationand Social Transformation


This research project investigates the practice of travel in Edo/Tokugawa Japan (1603-1868), particularly in connection with notions of social identity, transformation, and nationhood. Through a theoretical framework that combines Social History and Historical Bibliography, primary sources will be investigated, including commercially “unofficial” and “popular” sources published and distributed, such as travel guides and commercial maps. In the analysis the material will be considered: a) as objects, viewed in the light of the cultural and economical processes that led to their production and circulation, in order to understand the “range” of the ideological impact of travel; and b) in terms of their contents, in order to assess how their “commercialized” narratives reflect popular notions of identity and nationhood. An interdisciplinary approach, based on Travel Studies, Japanese Historiography, and in particularly, World Society Theory, will be implemented to discuss the cultural and social meaningof travel in the context of Tokugawa “absolutism”. Travel tends to be entwined with social mobility, in a way that alters and marks social and cultural landscapes. The project will therefore investigate whether travel within Japan, becoming growingly commonin a context of economic growth, came to subvert the geographical and social immobility that characterized Tokugawa administrative system. Furthermore, the analysis will discuss the relationship between travel and the formation of a national identity, assessing whether the social and ideological transformation connected with travel worked in Japan as a prompt for “proto-national” identification,as opposed to forms of local nationalism.

Field of science

  • /humanities/history and archaeology/history

Call for proposal

See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

MSCA-IF-EF-ST - Standard EF


Oxford Road
M13 9PL Manchester
United Kingdom
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 183 454,80