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7 - The Origins of Violence and Warfare in the Japanese Islands

from Part I - The Origins of Conflict

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 March 2020

Garrett G. Fagan
Affiliation:
Pennsylvania State University
Linda Fibiger
Affiliation:
University of Edinburgh
Mark Hudson
Affiliation:
Max-Planck-Institut für Menschheitsgeschichte, Germany
Matthew Trundle
Affiliation:
University of Auckland
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Summary

This chapter examines the origins and early history of violence in the Japanese Islands, focusing on the Jomon (c. 14,500–900 BCE) and Yayoi (c. 900 BCE– 250 CE) periods. For several reasons the Japanese archipelago is a good place to think about links between violence and historical change. It possesses a long sequence of hunter-gatherer settlement that can contribute to ongoing debates over violence and agriculture. Hunter-gatherers in the Japanese Islands display great diversity due to both ecological and historical factors. The fact that many in prehistoric Japan were engaged in plant cultivation, leads us to a third factor: if agriculture was an important stimulus behind organised warfare, then at what point along the continuum between forager cultivation and full-scale farming did violence take on that new mantle? Finally, the position of Japan at the periphery of the East Asian world system offers the opportunity to investigate the role of ‘tribal zone’ and similar colonial processes in contexts very different from those theorised in the existing literature.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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