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The Sparrow's Dream: The Meiji Revolution and Local Self-Assertion in Northern Japan

Bakkalian, Nyri A. (2017) The Sparrow's Dream: The Meiji Revolution and Local Self-Assertion in Northern Japan. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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It is an axiomatic fact of world history that the southwestern Japanese clans led the winning coalition in the Meiji Restoration war of 1868, swept away all opposition, and built the modern Japanese order. This victory is often taken as a given, but this is not enough for a comprehensive view on the Meiji Restoration. In this dissertation, I will go beyond simply accepting the southwesterners’ obvious success. I will explore why the Northern Alliance, a collection of domains in northeastern Japan, failed where the southwesterners' succeeded. Following on the powerful, albeit sporadic Japanese research stretching over the last thirty-odd years, I argue that the Alliance simply presents an imperfect analogue to the Kyoto-based southwestern coalition, which formed the modern Japanese government’s nucleus. The allies drew on a tradition of its own local political legitimacy and self-assertion stretching back a millennium, and engaged in “horizontal” cooperation amongst themselves, rather than relying on their ties in relation to the shogunal or imperial center. I argue that it was not conservatism, xenophobia, or technophobia that doomed the alliance. The southwestern clans contained or set aside individual agendas in pursuit of collective victory, kept up more frequent international trade thanks to major ports like Nagasaki, and benefited from sound fiscal policies, good harvests, and booming populations. Conversely, what doomed the Alliance was fragmented political agendas, irregular foreign trade through remote ports, and a combination of poor finances, deep debt, and massive depopulation due to major famines earlier in the 19th century.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Bakkalian, Nyri A.amb239@pitt.eduamb2390000-0002-8130-2996
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairChase, Williamwchase@pitt.eduwchase
Committee MemberRawski, Evelynesrx@pitt.eduesrx
Committee MemberSmethurst, Richardrsmet@pitt.edursmet
Committee MemberGlasco, Lawrencelarry.glasco@pitt.edularry.glasco
Committee MemberAdal, Rajaraja.adal@pitt.eduraja.adal
Committee MemberHowell,
Date: 23 September 2017
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 19 June 2017
Approval Date: 23 September 2017
Submission Date: 23 May 2017
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 252
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > History
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: bakumatsu, boshin war, northern alliance, sendai, tohoku, meiji restoration, civil war, date clan, military history
Date Deposited: 23 Sep 2017 23:41
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2022 05:15


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