In 1824 a young newlywed samurai woman of Kōchi castle town in southwestern Japan named Mori Nao wanted to divorce her samurai husband because she did not like him. Nao's husband adamantly refused to give her a divorce and the legal system said that only a man had the right and privilege to do so. After overcoming some resistance from her own family, she was able to get them on her side, and then her husband's family on her side and finally even the government of her domain allied with her and pressured him to divorce her. His relatives forced the divorce and put him in a cage in his back yard for some months, even though he had been defending his legal prerogative. This talk examines gender and the legal system by focusing on its functioning rather than the letter of the law, and also examines gender relations of a samurai family in its social context based on the rich sources that exist for this incident.
Luke S. Roberts is a professor of Japanese history in the Department of History at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Raised in West Virginia and educated at Oberlin College, Tokyo University and then Princeton University, where he studied under Marius Jansen, he specializes in methodologies of regional history and micro-history of Edo period Japan, doing most of his research on Tosa domain in southwest Japan. He is the author of Mercantilism in a Japanese Domain (Cambridge University Press 1998), Performing the Great Peace (University of Hawai'i Press, 2012), a co-authored book with Sharon Takeda, Japanese Fishermen's Coats from Awaji Island (UCLA Fowler Museum 2002) and numerous articles and chapters on life and political culture in the Edo period. In recent years his research has focused mostly on gender and household in the samurai class.
This event is open to the public.
See bio for Marius B. Jansen.