The ie or “stem family” has long been a central unit of analysis for historians, anthropologists, and sociologists working on early modern and modern Japan. This collection explores the formation and function of the stem family from the late sixteenth through the early nineteenth century, shedding new light on the stem family’s implications for a variety of status groups, from samurai to outcasts, and practices such as adoption, inheritance, and ancestor worship. Divided into two sections, one focusing on “norms” and the other on “case studies,” the chapters adopt a variety of methodologies to explore, among other things, the evolution of the stem family, as well as the social and economic tensions that shaped it.

All the chapters are well researched, argued, and written, but some are particularly noteworthy for those interested in interdisciplinary history. Fabian Drixler’s contribution on the spread of ancestor worship, a ritual practice that solidified stem-family...

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