Laura Nenzi, associate professor of history, recently published The Chaos and Cosmos of Kurosawa Tokiko: One Woman’s Transit from Tokugawa to Meiji Japan (University of Hawaii Press, 2015). Kurosawa Tokiko (1806-1890) was a rural commoner who tried to change the course of history through a combination of focused activism, acts of divination, and the interpretation of portents. Her life trajectory illuminates original paths to female participation in politics as well as resourceful ways to preserve identity in the face of change. By putting an extra in the spotlight, The Chaos and Cosmos of Kurosawa Tokiko offers a new script for the drama that unfolded as Japan transitioned from the early modern to the modern eras.
Nenzi completed the book as a fellow in residence at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Her next project will focus on the conflict that defined the collapse of the Tokugawa government in nineteenth-century Japan.