HIS 112
Book/Document Background Notes
Chardin Japan
Industry Genocide
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Sir John Chardin (1643-1713) was the son of a wealthy French jeweler who spent much of his life traveling through the Near East.  After fleeing France because of the persecution of the Huguenots, he settled in England where he became jeweler to the king.  He was later knighted.  Because of his high court connections, Chardin traveled in the best royal circles and subsequently recorded much of what he saw of seventeenth-century Persian (Safavid) life.  His numerous, and lengthy, travel accounts remain an important historical source.
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Although most Americans are aware of Commodore Matthew Perry's visit to Japan in 1854 that lead to the "opening" of Japan, Japan was not always closed to Europeans and Americans.  Indeed, in the sixteenth century, Japan was often visited by foreigners, and it was there that the Church had carried out some spectacular missionary activity.  But at the start of the seventeenth century, the Tokugawa exclusionary edicts changed all that and closed Japan to foreign contact.
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The Industrial Revolution first began in England in the middle of the eighteenth century with the gradual introduction of mechanized means of production to replace manual production.  This occurred first in the textile industry.  By the nineteenth century the revolution was well underway as factories had appeared everywhere; factories with large machines now powered by steam engines.  Those factories demanded a lot of labor, and people swarmed from the countryside into the cities to work in the factories.  Much of that early factory labor was provided by women and children.
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The term Genocide was the invention of a Polish-Jewish legal scholar, Raphael Lemkin (1900-1959), which he explained in his book about Axis rule in Europe (1944).  Thus, from the start, "genocide" was most closely used to apply to the Jewish Holocaust carried out by the Nazis.  In 1948 the United Nations adopted a Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, into effect in 1951, with a specific definition of genocide.  Despite that convention, and the agreement of the signers to abolish genocide, it has continued to take place over the last fifty years in a variety of locales across the world.

This page is copyright © 2006, C.T. Evans
For information contact cevans@nvcc.edu