Hard Times in the Hometown: A History of Community Survival in Modern Japan, by Martin Dusinberre, tells the story of Kaminoseki, a small town on Japan’s Inland Sea. Once one of the most prosperous ports in the country, Kaminoseki fell into profound economic decline following Japan’s reengagement with the West in the late nineteenth century. Using a recently discovered archive and oral histories collected during his years of research in Kaminoseki, Martin Dusinberre reconstructs the lives of households and townspeople as they tried to make sense of their changing place in the world. In challenging the familiar story of modern Japanese growth, Dusinberre provides important new insights into how ordinary people shaped the development of the modern state.
“This is superb historical writing with a purpose and I expect Hard Times in the Hometown to become not only required reading in economic and social history classes but essential for scholars who have been grappling with issues of understanding the historical weaknesses of Japanese civil society. In short, I am so bold as to claim that Dusinberre’s book will become an instant classic in Japanese history and essential reading for anthropologists and political scientists.” —Harald Fuess, professor for cultural economic history, Heidelberg University
February 2012 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3524-8 / $55.00 (CLOTH)