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Gift-exchange as a means of 'handling diversity': Japanese-European interactions in the seventeenth century

Wim De Winter (UGent)
(2013) MEDIEVAL HISTORY JOURNAL. 16(2). p.565-583
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Abstract
Historical intercultural interactions between Europeans and Japanese during the seventeenth century were characterised by a diversity of perceptions and attitudes within a dynamic yet stable continuum of relationships, in which people reached a certain degree of understanding in a daily context. This relational stability was fundamentally created through evolving cycles of gift-behaviour, which occurred on distinct social levels. Surpassing mere tribute, this proved to be a constitutive element of daily social life. Research based on early seventeenth century European travellers’ accounts, letters and journals, compared with a famous case from the end of that century, emphasises that this behaviour changed in some ways and persisted in others. Originally developing in a considerably spontaneous and dynamic manner, this tendency became more institutionalised and ritualised in later times, when a fixed protocol for dealing with diversity was established. This phenomenon can be analysed through anthropological theory, and should be compared to different historical contexts in a diachronic sense, in order to fully understand both the theoretical implications and particularities of this context. This includes a methodologically critical perspective as well as a reflection on how historians handle diversity.
Keywords
rituals, Tokugawa, Cultures of Giving, gift-exchange, Japanese studies, 17th century Japan, cultural history, intercultural relations between Europeans and Japanese, Mughal India, comparative history, historical anthropology, gift

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MLA
De Winter, Wim. “Gift-Exchange as a Means of ‘Handling Diversity’: Japanese-European Interactions in the Seventeenth Century.” MEDIEVAL HISTORY JOURNAL, edited by Thomas Ertl, vol. 16, no. 2, 2013, pp. 565–83, doi:10.1177/0971945813515023.
APA
De Winter, W. (2013). Gift-exchange as a means of “handling diversity”: Japanese-European interactions in the seventeenth century. MEDIEVAL HISTORY JOURNAL, 16(2), 565–583. https://doi.org/10.1177/0971945813515023
Chicago author-date
De Winter, Wim. 2013. “Gift-Exchange as a Means of ‘Handling Diversity’: Japanese-European Interactions in the Seventeenth Century.” Edited by Thomas Ertl. MEDIEVAL HISTORY JOURNAL 16 (2): 565–83. https://doi.org/10.1177/0971945813515023.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
De Winter, Wim. 2013. “Gift-Exchange as a Means of ‘Handling Diversity’: Japanese-European Interactions in the Seventeenth Century.” Ed by. Thomas Ertl. MEDIEVAL HISTORY JOURNAL 16 (2): 565–583. doi:10.1177/0971945813515023.
Vancouver
1.
De Winter W. Gift-exchange as a means of “handling diversity”: Japanese-European interactions in the seventeenth century. Ertl T, editor. MEDIEVAL HISTORY JOURNAL. 2013;16(2):565–83.
IEEE
[1]
W. De Winter, “Gift-exchange as a means of ‘handling diversity’: Japanese-European interactions in the seventeenth century,” MEDIEVAL HISTORY JOURNAL, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 565–583, 2013.
@article{4261658,
  abstract     = {{Historical intercultural interactions between Europeans and Japanese during the seventeenth century were characterised by a diversity of perceptions and attitudes within a dynamic yet stable continuum of relationships, in which people reached a certain degree of understanding in a daily context. This relational stability was fundamentally created through evolving cycles of gift-behaviour, which occurred on distinct social levels. Surpassing mere tribute, this proved to be a constitutive element of daily social life. Research based on early seventeenth century European travellers’ accounts, letters and journals, compared with a famous case from the end of that century, emphasises that this behaviour changed in some ways and persisted in others. Originally developing in a considerably spontaneous and dynamic manner, this tendency became more institutionalised and ritualised in later times, when a fixed protocol for dealing with diversity was established. This phenomenon can be analysed through anthropological theory, and should be compared to different historical contexts in a diachronic sense, in order to fully understand both the theoretical implications and particularities of this context. This includes a methodologically critical perspective as well as a reflection on how historians handle diversity.}},
  author       = {{De Winter, Wim}},
  editor       = {{Ertl, Thomas}},
  issn         = {{0971-9458}},
  journal      = {{MEDIEVAL HISTORY JOURNAL}},
  keywords     = {{rituals,Tokugawa,Cultures of Giving,gift-exchange,Japanese studies,17th century Japan,cultural history,intercultural relations between Europeans and Japanese,Mughal India,comparative history,historical anthropology,gift}},
  language     = {{eng}},
  number       = {{2}},
  pages        = {{565--583}},
  title        = {{Gift-exchange as a means of 'handling diversity': Japanese-European interactions in the seventeenth century}},
  url          = {{http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0971945813515023}},
  volume       = {{16}},
  year         = {{2013}},
}

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