Asian Civilizations

In her Presidential Address to the Association of Asian Studies in 2005, Mary Elizabeth Berry made the proposition that “War is not an act of nature and therefore inevitable…it is an act of humans and therefore subject to decision and control.”[1] That is, war is but one option of many in response to political fights. In her address, Berry argues that war and armed violence has become normal, and even accepted, as an appropriate recourse to political conflict or personal slight. Using the Warring States Period of Japan (1467-1615), Berry argues that in this period “numerous, nameable elite families turned recklessly to violence to avenge insult, enhance prestige, secure their stakes in land, and sate the appetites of opportunistic retainers.”[2] More importantly, “the Daimyo of the Warring States went to battle because violence was an acceptable recourse.”[3]

Thus, the period of medieval Japan was one of conflict, a situation where armed violence and warfare was not just common, but even acceptable behaviour. Others have argued, in the context of Europe, that war, and the development of the art of war, was crucial in the development of nation states as central powers (e.g. kings, princes) were increasingly able to enforce their power over barons and other feudal lords.[4] This was a similar process in Japan. While warfare was not the only means of state development, it was a crucial aspect of that, and characterized much of the medieval period in Japan.

The essay will require you to engage with the broad question of “how did warfare affected the development of the medieval Japanese state?” In the assigned articles, how do the authors describe how the power of the Japanese state expanded and was contested? In what ways did the ruling elite of Japan extend their authority and power throughout history? How was this attempt to centralize power resisted by other levels of Japanese society?

This essay will require a significant amount of summary, but there will remain a critical component to your writing. Do not merely repeat what you read. The material you select from your readings will be used to demonstrate a point. As you discuss how the various authors in this assignment discuss the relationship between war, power, and state development, be clear in how they make their own arguments: what sources do they use? What are their examples? How do they compare in their analysis?

[1] Mary Elizabeth Berry, “Presidential Address: Samurai Trouble: Thoughts on War and Loyalty,” The Journal of Asian Studies 64 No. 4 (Nov., 2005), 834.

[1] Berry, “Presidential Address,” 835.

[1] Ibid. Emphasis added.

[1] Richard Bean, “War and the Birth of the Nation State,” The Journal of Economic History 33 No. 1 (Mar., 1973): 203-221.


Your essay should have a fully developed introduction with a thesis statement, body paragraphs that are focused on one point each, and a conclusion that satisfactorily brings the paper to an end by reflecting on the broad importance of this research topic. The essay should be cohesive and flow well, which can be achieved by ensuring you have an overarching argument that unites all sections of your essay. To help with structuring your essay, the use of an outline can be very helpful. Refer to the Course Guide on UMLearn for more.

For this essay, all sources must be discussed, and you are not permitted to add additional readings. The essay should be between 1500-2000 words in 12-point, double spaced text (please single space the bibliography). Use an easy to read font like Times New Roman or Calibri. Please include a title page that includes an original essay title, your name, student ID, and section (ASIA or HIST), and ensure there are page numbers.  An essay title as banal as “Assignment 1” is a weak start to an essay.

Please view the following ALC handout for help coming up with a catchy title:

h t t p : / / u m a n i t o b a . c a / s t u d e n t / a c a d e m i c l e a r n i n g / m e d i a /

Writing_a_Great_Title_NEW.pdf. You must use Chicago style footnotes for your citations, and include a bibliography. Essays are to be submitted to the Dropbox folder on the course’s UMLearn site by 11:59PM on 27 November 2020.


You are required to read and incorporate all of the following readings. Because they are not easy to find through the Library website, they will be available via UMLearn. Please use the following bibliographic information to format your Chicago style footnotes and bibliography.

Berry, Mary Elizabeth. “Public Peace and Private Attachment: The Goals and Conduct of Power in Early Modern Japan.” Journal of Japanese Studies 12 No.2 (1986): 237-271.

Friday, Karl. “Pushing Beyond the Pale: The Yamato Conquest of the Emishi and Northern Japan.” Journal of Japanese Studies 23, no. 1 (1997): 1–24.

Ferejohn, John A. and Frances McCaill Rosenbluth. “War and State Building in Medieval Japan.” In War and State Building in Medieval Japan. Edited by John Ferejoh and Frances Rosenbluth, 1-20. Redwood City: Stanford University Press, 2010.

**** The above entries are properly formatted entries for the Bibliography under Chicago style. Note that minor changes need to be made for a footnote citation. [Model Title Page]

Assignment Title*



Due 27 November 2020 (25%)


Final Mark:       /100 Footnotes:           /10

Appropriate use of notes: Footnotes, not endnotes or in-text citations, are given at the appropriate time, i.e. whenever a quote is given or a specific section in the text is referred to. Refer to Writing History guidebook.

Correct format of notes, minus 1 for not using “Ibid.”: Refer to the two links above for

proper formatting, and to the Writing History guidebook. Note that “Ibid.” should be used when the same source as the previous footnote is being cited.

Style and Appearance:                       /15

Following directions on font, margins, spacing, etc.

Right length

General quality of writing (grammar, spelling, sentence/paragraph structure, evidence of diligent proofreading)

Structure                                               /30

Introduction (5 marks): Should appropriately introduce the subject and what your essay will argue in particular. You must include a thesis and road map for your essay. You will be expected to have referred to the following handout on road mapping: Be sure to take note of the “Introductions as Roadmaps” and “Topic Sentences as Signposts” sections – properly followed, these can greatly improve overall essay cohesion and quality!

Body (20 marks): This is where your claims made in the introduction will be presented, discussed and argued, and your “signposts” signaled. Avoid long quotations and make sure your paragraphs contain one idea each. Refer to the following link on paragraph structure: resource/606/01/. As each paragraph will contribute to one broad argument, discussion should flow well and transition in ideas between paragraphs smoothly.

Conclusion (5 marks): Beyond simply repeating/summarizing what your essay has already said, reflect on the broader importance of your paper to the broader history of Asia and the World. Remember: The reader will be looking for an answer to “So what?!” in your conclusion. Why is your topic important?

Use of Evidence                                   /25

Specific evidence from the readings are used to support claims and interpretations made by the author.

Examples and other evidence support the main thesis, and fit cohesively within each paragraph.

Minimal use of quoted material, which is flawlessly integrated into the discussion. See

A synthetic approach to the texts that attempts to blend the various arguments of the authors

Logic and Argumentation                  /30

The essay must be more than a description of facts.

The argument presented in the essay is identifiable, can be supported by evidence, and makes reasonable claims.

All ideas presented in the body of the essay flow from, and support, the argument presented in the thesis statement.

Author successfully anticipates and defends counter-points to the argument.


[1] Mary Elizabeth Berry, “Presidential Address: Samurai Trouble: Thoughts on War and Loyalty,” The Journal of Asian Studies 64 No. 4 (Nov., 2005), 834.

[2] Berry, “Presidential Address,” 835.

[3] Ibid. Emphasis added.

[4] Richard Bean, “War and the Birth of the Nation State,” The Journal of Economic History 33 No. 1 (Mar., 1973): 203-221.