A Defeated Samurai of Japan’s Civil War and the Transnational Re-imagination of Civilisation in the Late Nineteenth-Century United States

In contrast with the vast scholarship on the American Civil War (1861–5), very limited attention has been paid to Japan’s Boshin Civil War (1868–9), let alone its losers. Defeated samurai – particularly those who refused to follow the ideology of the victorious Meiji state (1868–1912) – have been largely forgotten. One of such defeated samurai intellectual, Arai Ōsui (1846–1922), joined a mixed-race religious agricultural community in late nineteenth-century rural America. Ōsui’s encounter with the US counterculture, outside of the state’s diplomatic mission, far transcended a trivial historical episode of one man experiencing rural American life and its eccentric religion. The scope of this defeated samurai will allow us to disclose its legacy developed in early twentieth-century Japan – the birth of a new, anti-imperial, cultural-intellectual phenomenon at the height of the Meiji state’s imperialism.

Co-convenors Juliana Buriticá Alzate, Jenny Guest, Hugh Whittaker