Empiricism and Exchange: Dutch-Japanese Relations Through Material Culture, 1600-1750
Wheelock, Arthur K
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This thesis will focus on unique modes of material culture exchange to shed light on the early relationship between the Dutch Republic and Japan in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. I will demonstrate that while exoticism and “otherness” animated this cross-cultural interaction, important commonalities between the two countries also merit examination. The rich and diverse material culture bequeathed by the Dutch-Japanese relationship, particularly when viewed in the context of “micro-exchanges” such as gift-giving and (anti-) religious ritual, offers an excellent means for exploring these similarities. Three case studies – the Japonsche rok (Japanese robe), Rembert Dodoens’s Cruydt-Boeck (Herbal), and bas-relief plaques of Christ and the Virgin Mary, which in Japan were transformed into fumi-e (踏み絵, “trampling images”) – will illuminate one of these commonalities: the simultaneous rise of empiricism in both the Dutch Republic and Japan.