After studying Japanese Studies and History at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) between 2011 and 2015, Michael Dietrich completed the Japan Programme of the German Academic Scholarship Foundation, a double M.A. programme at MLU Halle-Wittenberg and Keiō University in Tōkyō, between 2015 and 2017. Since 2017 he has been a doctoral student in the field of History of Japanese Science at MLU Halle-Wittenberg.
Michael Dietrich’s doctoral thesis focuses on spaces of knowledge production and the development of academic structures in the context of local rule in early modern Japan. Taking Kaga domain (today’s Ishikawa and Toyama prefectures) as a case study, he is investigating the role of transregional networks of scholars, as well as the role of “learned lords” (kōgaku daimyō) in the development of a local, pre-modern knowledge society at the end of the 17th century. The choice of this period under study is based on its importance as a formative phase of pre-modern Japanese scholarship, whose established academic structures and patterns of thought remained effective well into the second half of the 19th century.
At the centre of his analysis are questions about the strategies of early modern promotion of scholars and scholarship outside the central regions of Kyoto and Edo (today’s Tokyo), as well as about the position of scholars in local social and ruling structures. In this way, the study attempts to do justice to current research trends in the history of knowledge and science, which call for an increased focus on the socio-political and structural background, and an emphasis on local development. For this study, a specially created database is used to map wide-ranging personal relationships of the central actors of interest to identify and analyse scholarly networks.