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Tokugawa Village Practice
Class, Status, Power, Law
by Herman Ooms
About The Book
In contrast to modern Japanese citizens, during the Tokugawa period (1600-1868) villagers frequently resorted to lawsuits to settle conflicts. Herman Ooms uses colorful, skillfully analyzed case studies to trace the evolution of class and status conflicts through lawsuits and petitions in villages. Inspired by the work of Max Weber and Pierre Bourdieu, this exploration of social and legal history illuminates the texture and detail of village life, focusing on relations to authority.
Opening with a story of an angry peasant woman’s lifelong struggle against village authority (a story involving murder and revenge), Ooms highlights the role played by obscure historical actors including local elites, commoners, women, and outcastes. He also discusses the important role lineages played in village politics and examines the origins of discrimination against Japan’s burakumin, or outcastes.
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