Organized Panel Session
This panel reevaluates diplomatic practices in coastal Eastern and Western Asia by reappraising documents exchanged in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In many instances these documents do not accord with the prevailing frameworks of a tributary Asia and a treaty-focused West. As the panel will reveal, the documents instead show how diplomatic intercourse involved messy, and for the historian intriguing, agendas and contradictions. Terms proposed by one side originated with another or masked an array of specific conditions implicitly known to both sides. By discussing the intricacies of document production, exchange, and even absence, this panel will present multiple new avenues on the study of early modern Eastern and Western Asian diplomacy.
Matsukata Fuyuko analyzes how Tokugawa-era Japanese documents served first as “capitulations” that confirmed written privileges for foreign communities before later becoming objects to facilitate oral transmission of orders and expectations. Joshua Batts explains the ways in which documents show the impasses and surprising areas of agreement that emerged in communication between agents of Tokugawa Japan and the Spanish Empire. Daito Norifumi demonstrates that what the Dutch East India Company uniformly labeled and collected as “contracts” masked the company’s concessionary strategy of addressing the demands and goals of local authorities in Indian Ocean polities like Safavid Persia. Panel discussants Kasai Yasunori and Okubo Takeharu will frame these case studies by explaining how Dutch and other Westerners integrated Roman and other European legal concepts, adding global elements to early modern Dutch and East Asian documents and by implication relations overall.