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In Session: Markets, Imperial Politics and Trans-Mobility
The Interdisciplinary Study of 17th Century’s Japanese Porcelain Development and Its Relation to Chinese Migration
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
12:00pm – 1:30pm EDT
San Jose State University, United States
The accepted historical evolution of Japanese porcelain technology in the 17th century does not account for the contribution of undocumented Chinese refugees and migrants during the Chinese dynastic transition. Although there have been previous studies that documented the cultural and technological influence of renowned Chinese migrant scholars, there has been little interest or focus on undocumented craftsmen and migrants and their impact on the development in the field of Japanese porcelains. The rapid cultural and technological enrichment observed in early Tokugawa Japan such as stone arch bridge construction, yet suggests that they derived from human transmission. This study advocates the interdisciplinary approach for illustrating the dynamic impact of the littoral population of the Fujian and Kyushu coast upon Japanese porcelain production. Positioning Japanese porcelain history in reference to the history of Ming to Qing transition, the study carefully re-examines how series of Chinese civil wars during the transitional era directly and indirectly affected the political and economic spheres of the Japanese society while accelerating the development of Japanese porcelain industry in the mid-17th century. The analysis uses supplemental epidemiologic data of HTLV-1 virus, i.e. the first human retrovirus discovered and is endemic in Fujian and Kyushu, to demonstrate the hybrid nature of the aforementioned populations and their potential involvement with cultural production. By using data from various disciplines, this study aims to delineate a more comprehensive and multidimensional picture of the development of Japanese porcelain as a result of dynamic intercultural contacts in the global age.