Skip to main content Accessibility help
Japan's Imperial Underworlds
  • Cited by 7
  • Export citation
  • Recommend to librarian
  • Buy the print book

Book description

This major new study uses vivid accounts of encounters between Chinese and Japanese people living at the margins of empire to elucidate Sino-Japanese relations in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Each chapter explores mobility in East Asia through the histories of often ignored categories of people, including trafficked children, peddlers, 'abducted' women and a female pirate. These stories reveal the shared experiences of the border populations of Japan and China and show how they fundamentally shaped the territorial boundaries that defined Japan's imperial world and continue to inform present-day views of China. From Meiji-era treaty ports to the Taiwan Strait, South China, and French Indochina, the movements of people in marginal locations not only destabilized the state's policing of geographical borders and social boundaries, but also stimulated fantasies of furthering imperial power.


‘Japan's Imperial Underworlds is an extraordinary piece of scholarship. David R. Ambaras reconstructs marginal lives - including those of pirates, peddlers, and child abductors - on the maritime edge of the Japanese empire. The world he evokes is unfamiliar and unforgettable; and as a framework for understanding modern Sino-Japanese relations, the book is an absolute must-read.'

Martin Dusinberre - University of Zurich

‘Through vivid microhistories, Japan's Imperial Underworlds redraws the social and political boundaries of empire in modern East Asia. Ambaras deftly reveals how the movement of migrants, smugglers, pirates, and trafficked people between China and Japan - and their sensationalization in the popular press - created surprising cross-currents in the politics of Sino-Japanese relations during the years of Japanese imperial expansion.'

Jordan Sand - Georgetown University, Washington, DC

Refine List

Actions for selected content:

Select all | Deselect all
  • View selected items
  • Export citations
  • Download PDF (zip)
  • Save to Kindle
  • Save to Dropbox
  • Save to Google Drive

Save Search

You can save your searches here and later view and run them again in "My saved searches".

Please provide a title, maximum of 40 characters.



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Book summary page views

Total views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between #date#. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.