Proposal preview

Historical Demography: Migration in Early Modern Society

Economic and social historians have discussed many aspects of migration in an early modern setting. Migrating people, by transmitting their culture, skills and sometimes even epidemics to others, exerted a considerable impact on resident populations. Migration also played an important role in the evolution of market economy – not only markets for goods but for services as well. With the evolution of markets for services, or labour markets, more people were on the move. With the expansion of goods markets, merchants also travelled back and forth between villages, and between villages and towns. The dominant move was from villages to towns and cities as labour demands were concentrated in towns/cities. If one had no means of subsistence, he or she is very much likely to have headed for the nearby urban centre. Especially when a serious famine hit the area, a large number of people left the village.
Such importance has been well recognized by historical demographers, migration has been a difficult issue since information about who migrated, and in what circumstances, is difficult to obtain from records of events such as parish registers. In contrast, from listings of residents, if they were taken repeatedly, information is readily available concerning who migrated where, and in what household circumstances. In this respect, Japanese ninbetsu aratame chō (NAC) or shūmon aratame chō (SAC) are excellent sources for migration since they were taken annually. Japanese participants of this panel will make full use of this type of data in order to unveil types of migration as well as movements of people in an early modern setting. To map the distance and routes the people travelled, the scholars also employ the technique of geographical information system (GIS). The first important point of this panel is therefore to visualize and explore the migration routes to the town in question. Also explored is push and pull factors in the town-ward movements. Secondly, the exploration will be made over a long period – from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century. Circumstances surrounding the migrants changed substantially; especially the volume as well as the destination of migration varied from time period to time period. In doing research of this kind, thirdly, hints and clues for other types of migration research will be sought for. Finally, attempts will be made to place findings from such Japanese migration studies in comparative perspective.
The first paper deals mainly with female labour migration by focusing on one post town and surrounding villages in Nihonmatsu domain, part of today’s Fukushima prefecture. The post town attracted migrants for work not only from surrounding villages but from other provinces such as Echigo, present-day Niigata prefecture.
The next paper looks at this Echigo region. There, being a snow country, males’ winter-time migration had already been established. For example, many went to saké brewing districts, Aizu, western part of today’s Fukushima prefecture. Such seasonal labour migration must have led to an emergence of inter-provincial people’s network.
The third paper turns to Kyoto, a metropolitan city. By using township NAC/SACs, this paper examines if there existed any differences between natives and non-natives (the latter category includes Kyoto-born as well as rural-born in-migrants).
The fourth paper is about female migration in seventeenth-eighteenth Italy, i.e. Turin and Piedmont. Attempt will be made to identify both similarities and differences between the two.
One more European paper is under negotiation. Thus, it is hoped that by bringing female-focused, household-level data using papers on both Japanese and European communities together, new frontiers of migration studies will be explored.


  • Miyuki Takahashi, Rissho University,, Japan
  • Mary L. Nagata, Francis Marion University, MNagata@FMARION.EDU, U.S.

Session members

  • Ariadne Schmidt, Leiden University,
  • Miyuki Takahashi, Rissho University,
  • Satomi Kurosu, Reitaku University,
  • Atsushi Nagaoka, Reitaku University,
  • Tingting, Zhang, Tohoku University,
  • Mary L. Nagata, Francis Marion University, MNagata@FMARION.EDU
  • Swarupa Shankar, University of Hyderabad,
  • Ruquia Hussain, Aligarh Muslim University,
  • Beatrice Zucca, University of Cambridge,
  • Martin Andersson, Sodertorn University,
  • Mateusz Wyzga, Pedagogical University,

Proposed discussant(s)

  • Amy L. Erickson, University of Cambridge,
  • Chiaki Yamamoto, Osaka University,


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