Rural History 2015

Panel 49

Organizers: Takahashi, Motoyasu (1); Muldrew, Craig (2); Hasebe, Hiroshi (3); Murayama, Yoshiyuki (4)

Affiliation: 1: Ehime University, Japan; 2: Cambridge University, UK; 3: Tohoku University, Japan; 4: Yamagata Univeristy, Japan

Title: Famine and the village society in the context of international comparison: Revisited

"In 2010 we organized a panel entitled 'Famine and the village society in the context of international comparison' for the 1st conference of this IRHC in Sussex University. The panel mainly discussed the responses of the Han domain governor and village community to the 'Great Famine' in the Tenpo period (1830s) from various viewpoints, and compared it to what happened in other parts of Japan in similar situations. The panel examined the village administration, the characteristics of the famine as a natural disaster, demographic patterns, social and economic polarisation and the policy of saving corn stocks which was introduced by the Han domain. Papers focused on Kami-shiojiri village which at the time was under the governance of the Ueda Han domain, in Nagano prefecture (old name Shinano). As in other parts of Eastern Japan, Ueda Han domain experienced considerably bad harvests in 1833 and 1836. In particular the bad harvest in 1836 caused significant damage to the village, including deaths as a consequence of epidemics. Kami-shiojiri village, however, managed to recover from the two bad harvests and the famine through taking effective measures to help them deal with future harvest failures based on their experience of famines in the past.
Since then, we have explored numerous untouched documents in Kami-shiojiri village. The newly found documents cover four family groups: the Satos, Babas, Shimizus and Yamazakis. The numbers of documents are around seven thousand and cover a wide range of village life including financial networks. It took a long time to sort out and categorise before analysing and some documents, still now, are uncovered. However, the newly gained data has allowed us to trace back to the religious faith census period (Shumon Aratame-cho) from 1757 to 1783 and to the silkworm egg merchants activities covering fifty years from the 1720s to the 1770s. The newly gained documents have also provided the data to enable us to adopt a new approach for further international comparison.
This research focuses on the 'budget' of villagers, 'Ie', families and households. The habit of drawing up a budget was something that is first observed in the period of the transition to the market economy in both Japanese and Western European societies. Our research aims to clarify how families and household units went about producing their budgets. We intend to analyse and compare the transformation of village society in response to the transition to the market economy and, in particular, to examine the history of how people went about drawing up a 'family budget'. Moreover, we undertake a comparative study of the complicated process of the emergence of the modern market economy society which cannot be understood simply by examining the recent theories about peasant life.
Following the outline of the project, for this panel we would like to focus on the famine and bad harvest period and make international comparisons. In particular, we would make connections between families, households and the villages they belonged to, and provide a comparative analysis of the regional characteristics of the transition to the market economy in Japan and Europe, concentrating mainly upon the structure of 'family budgets'.
So, this 'revisited' panel would cover a longer period and provide a wider and deeper discussion of village people's families and households in the local economic and social contexts during the period of famine and bad harvest."



Chair: Motoyasu Takahashi, Ehime University, Japan

Paper 1: Climate and agricultural conditions for the lean Tenpo harvest in Kami-Shiojiri village [+]

Yoshiyuki Murayama, Yamagata University, Japan

Paper 2: The bad Tenpo harvest and agriculture in Kamishiojiri village [+]

Futoshi Yamauchi, Kyoto Sangyo University, Japan

Paper 3: The Historical Analysis of Durable Power to the Tenpo Famine; a case study of Kami Shiojiri Village [+]

Hiroshi Hasebe, Tohoku University, Japan

Paper 4: Family Economy, Market Participation and Female Activity in Pre-Industrial Nordic Rural Society

Beatrice Moring, University of Helsinki/Cambridge


Suggested deadline for sending completed papers 31 july 2015

© 2014 Rural History 2015