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Transpacific Correspondences: Dispatches from Japan’s Black Studies, an essay collection edited by Dr. Yuichiro Onishi and Dr Fumiko Sakashita, introduces a little-known, but critical history of Black Studies in Japan. Taking the Black Studies Association (Kokujin Kenkyu no Kai) as its focus, the collection charts the history of members of the Blac…
 
In 1800, the Shogun’s chief minister wrote the following about the city of Edo: "Someone said that if Edo did not have frequent fires, then people would be more showy and flash. In the capital or in Osaka they do everything with lavish elegance: people hang up paintings in their homes or put out arrangements of flowers. But in Edo, even in the affl…
 
Anecdote, Network, Gossip, Performance: Essays on the Shishuo xinyu (Harvard UP, 2021) is a study of the Shishuo xinyu, the most important anecdotal collection of medieval China—and arguably of the entire traditional era. In a set of interconnected essays, Jack W. Chen offers new readings of the Shishuo xinyu that draw upon social network analysis,…
 
This episode features three interviews with organizers and scholars concerned with Asian migrant sex work: SWAN Vancouver (Alison Clancey and Kelly Go), Dr. Lily Wong, and Dr. Yuri Doolan. On March 16, 2021, Robert Aaron Long targeted three Atlanta-area spas and massage parlors and killed eight people: Delania Ashley Yuan González, Xiaojie Tan, Dao…
 
In this newly revised and updated 2nd edition of Voices of Early Modern Japan: Contemporary Accounts of Daily Life During the Age of the Shoguns (Routledge, 2020), Constantine Nomikos Vaporis offers an accessible collection of annotated historical documents of an extraordinary period in Japanese history, ranging from the unification of warring stat…
 
The Art of Political Control in China (Cambridge University Press, 2019) shows how China's authoritarian state ensures political control by non-violent mechanisms. Daniel C. Mattingly demonstrates how coercive control is achieved through informal means to achieve goals such as land redistribution, the enforcement of family planning policies, and th…
 
In The Dutch Language in Japan (1600-1900): A Cultural and Sociolinguistic Study of Dutch as a Contact Language in Tokugawa and Meiji Japan (Brill, 2020), Christopher Joby offers the first book-length account of the knowledge and use of the Dutch language in Tokugawa and Meiji Japan. For most of this period, the Dutch were the only Europeans permit…
 
Dennis Frost’s More than Medals: A History of the Paralympics and Disability Sports in Postwar Japan is a history of disability sports in modern Japan. The 1964, 1998, and upcoming Paralympics are important case studies, but Frost’s interests go far beyond this pinnacle of international, competitive disability sports. More than Medals explores the …
 
The study of religion in China has a long history across a number of interrelated disciplines. In recent years, scholars have been reassessing past scholarship and synthesizing it in new ways. The three-volume project “Concepts and Methods for the Study of Chinese Religions” is one of the most exciting of these endeavors and establishes productive …
 
How do we make sense of the “durability and gigantic scale” of China’s economic expansion alongside the reports of “rising” and “explosive” corruption? How has China moved from an “impoverished communist regime to a capitalist superpower rivaling the United States” despite a crisis of corruption that its own leadership describes as “gave” and “shoc…
 
In the seventeenth century, Japanese popular prose flourished as waves of newly literate readers gained access to the printed word. Commercial publishers released vast numbers of titles in response to readers’ hunger for books that promised them potent knowledge. However, traditional literary histories of this period position the writings of Ihara …
 
Red Creative: Culture and Modernity in China (Intellect Books, 2020) is an exploration of China’s cultural economy over the last twenty years, particularly through the lens of its creative hub of Shanghai. The research presented here raises questions about the nature of contemporary ‘creative’ capitalism and the universal claims of Western modernit…
 
Sarah Kovner’s Prisoners of the Empire: Inside Japanese POW Camps (Harvard UP, 2020) is a nuanced look at the experiences, narratives―and the popular/historical memories of those experiences and narratives―of World War II-era Allied POWs in Japanese custody, especially in the English-language world. While never denying the horrors of war and the PO…
 
There are currently eleven million Uyghurs living in China, but more than one million are being held in so-called reeducation camps. A cultural genocide is taking place under the guise of counterterrorism. In this profound and explosive book, Sean Roberts shows how China is using the US-led global war on terror to erase and replace Uyghur culture a…
 
How does revolution literature help to engage Mongolia’s nomadic population with the utopia of a “new society” promised by the Mongolian People’s Revolution Party? In Politics and Literature in Mongolia 1921-1948 (Amsterdam University Press, 2020), Simon Wickhamsmith explores the relationship between literature and politics in the period between th…
 
Nineteenth-century Japanese literary discourse and narrative developed a striking preoccupation with ninjō—literally “human emotion,” but often used in reference to amorous feeling and erotic desire. For many writers and critics, fiction’s capacity to foster both licentiousness and didactic values stood out as a crucial source of ambivalence. Simul…
 
What were the stories of modern China-India relations in the age of empires? How did India and China engage with each other beyond pan-Asianist and anti-colonialist interactions? In Beyond Pan-Asianism: Connecting China and India, 1840s-1960s (Oxford UP, 2020), fifteen diverse scholars attempt to answer these questions through analyses on literatur…
 
The texts that are examined in this study move in and out of different languages or are multilingual in their origins. Texts and authors do not move randomly; rather, they follow routes shaped by the history of contact between different nations of the transpacific. As these texts move into and out of the Chinese language or become multilingual, the…
 
Compiled around 1235, the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu, or Ogura's 100 Poems by 100 Poets, is one of the most important collections of poetry in Japan. Though the poets include emperors and empresses, courtiers and high priests, ladies-in-waiting and soldier-calligraphers, the collection is far more than a fascinating historical document. As the translator…
 
The Russian cultural presence in Japan after the Meiji Revolution was immense. Indeed, Japanese cultural negotiations with Russian intellectuals and Russian literature, art, theology and political thought, formed an important basis for modern Japanese transnational intellectual, cultural, literary, and artistic production. And yet, despite the dept…
 
Reflecting the Past: Place, Language, and Principle in Japan's Medieval Mirror Genre (Harvard UP, 2020) is the first English-language study to address the role of historiography in medieval Japan, an age at the time widely believed to be one of irreversible decline. Drawing on a decade of research, including work with medieval manuscripts, it analy…
 
In Utopian Ruins: A Memorial Museum of the Mao Era (Duke University Press, 2020) Jie Li traces the creation, preservation, and elision of memories about China's Mao era by envisioning a virtual museum that reckons with both its utopian yearnings and its cataclysmic reverberations. Li proposes a critical framework for understanding the documentation…
 
In Transnational Identities on Okinawa’s Military Bases: Invisible Armies (Palgrave MacMillan, 2019), Johanna Zulueta considers the role of civilian workers on U.S. bases in Okinawa, Japan and how transnational movements within East Asia during the Occupation period brought foreign workers, mostly from the Philippines, to work on these bases. Decad…
 
Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward campaign organized millions of Chinese peasants into communes in a misguided attempt to rapidly collectivize agriculture with disastrous effects. Catastrophic famine lingered as the global cholera pandemic of the early 1960s spread rampantly through the infected waters of southeastern coastal China. Confronted with a…
 
Ishikawa Sanshirō (1876-1956) was a journalist, intellectual, and self-proclaimed socialist active in early twentieth-century Japan. In Ishikawa Sanshirō’s Geographical Imaginations: Transnational Anarchism and the Reconfiguration of Everyday Life in Early Twentieth-Century Japan (Leiden UP, 2020), Nadine Willems follows the life and travels of thi…
 
Winifred Bird’s Eating Wild Japan: Tracking the Culture of Foraged Foods, with a Guide to Plants and Recipes (Stone Bridge Press, 2021) is more than just a look at the culture and meanings of foraging in Japan complete with an eclectic collection of recipes and a guide for foragers, though it is certainly that. Eating Wild records the author’s enco…
 
In The Sea and the Sacred in Japan: Aspects of Maritime Religion (Bloomsbury 2018), Fabio Rambelli invites various fifteen scholars of Japanese religions to reflect on a well taken-for-granted fact: although the sea has always been a critical source of religious inspirations for Japan, the study of Japanese religions has chosen to turn its attentio…
 
Suyoung Son’s book Writing for Print: Publishing and the Making of Textual Authority in Late Imperial China (Harvard UP, 2018) examines the widespread practice of self-publishing by writers in late imperial China, focusing on the relationships between manuscript tradition and print convention, peer patronage and popular fame, and gift exchange and …
 
With over 100 million followers, Buddhism in the People's Republic of China now fosters the largest community in the world of individuals who self-identify as Buddhists. Although Buddhism was harshly persecuted during the Cultural Revolution under the leadership of Mao Zedong, Buddhist communities around the country were able to revive their tradit…
 
Chelsea Szendi Schieder’s Co-Ed Revolution: The Female Student in the Japanese New Left and Naoko Koda’s The United States and the Japanese Student Movement, 1948-1973: Managing a Free World provide new insights into the postwar Japanese student movement. Koda, a scholar of diplomatic history and international relations, situates student activism w…
 
The remarkable life of history's first foreign-born samurai and his astonishing journey from Northern Africa to the heights of Japanese society. When Yasuke arrived in Japan in the late 1500s, he had already traveled much of the known world. Kidnapped as a child, and trained into a boy soldier in India, he had ended up an indentured servant and bod…
 
If we wish to understand the role of China in today’s global society, we would do well to remind ourselves of the tragic, titanic struggle which that country waged in the 1930s and 1940s not just for its own national dignity and survival, but for the victory of all the Allies, west and east, against some of the darkest forces that history has ever …
 
In today’s episode of Ethnographic Marginalia, Sneha Annavarapu talks with Dr. Caterina Fugazzola, Earl S Johnson Instructor in Sociology at the University of Chicago, about her research on the contemporary tongzhi (LGBT) movement in the People’s Republic of China. Dr. Fugazzola briefly discusses her current book project (under contract with Temple…
 
From 2002 to 2013, China’s rapid economic growth caused a boom in the prices of commodities—particularly of metals, fuel, and soybeans. According to political economist Dr. Nick Jepson, the commodity boom offered resource exporters in the Global South the financial resources and thus the opportunity to break away from international financial instit…
 
Eika Tai’s Comfort Women Activism: Critical Voices from the Perpetrator State (Hong Kong University Press, 2020) tackles the complex histories of Japanese “military sexual violence” and the activism by women in Japan, mostly since the 1990s. Tai’s contribution to scholarship on the so-called “comfort women” issue begins with a helpful overview of b…
 
Embracing ‘Asia’ in China and Japan: Asianism Discourse and the Contest for Hegemony (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018) by Torsten Weber examines how Asianism became a key concept in mainstream political discourse between China and Japan and how it was used both domestically and internationally in the contest for political hegemony. It argues that, from th…
 
On 9th August 1945, the US dropped the second atomic bomb on Nagasaki. Of the dead, approximately 8500 were Catholic Christians, representing over sixty percent of the community. In Dangerous Memory in Nagasaki: Prayers, Protests, and Catholic Survivor Narratives (Routledge, 2019), Gwyn McClelland presents a collective biography, where nine Catholi…
 
Is the Indo-Pacific already the most dominant in terms of global power, politics, and wealth? In his newest book, Michael R. Auslin considers the key issues facing the Indo-Pacific which have ramifications for the entire world. Geopolitical competition in the region threatens stability not just in Asia, but globally. In a series of essays, Asia's N…
 
The Films of Kore-eda Hirokazu: An Elemental Cinema (Palgrave MacMillan, 2019) draws readers into the first 13 feature films and 5 of the documentaries of award-winning Japanese film director Kore-eda Hirokazu. With his recent top prize at the Cannes Film Festival for Shoplifters, Kore-eda is arguably Japan’s greatest living director with an intern…
 
The Zhen’gao, or Declarations of the Perfected is one of the most important Daoist texts, and a literary classic in its own right. The Declarations of the Perfected collects fragmentary texts—poems, information on the realm of the dead, instructions for practice—revealed to Yang Xi (330—ca. 386) by celestial beings. These texts were assembled and a…
 
Though fascinated with the land of their tradition’s birth, virtually no Japanese Buddhists visited the Indian subcontinent before the nineteenth century. In the richly illustrated Seeking Śākyamuni: South Asia in the Formation of Modern Japanese Buddhism (U Chicago Press, 2019), Richard M. Jaffe reveals the experiences of the first Japanese Buddhi…
 
Medicine and Memory in Tibet: Amchi Physicians in an Age of Reform (University of Washington Press, 2018) is the first full-length ethnography of Tibetan medical practitioners (amchi) in central Tibet working outside of major Tibetan medical institutions in Lhasa. Departing from extant ethnographies and scholarship on Tibetan medicine in the twenti…
 
Imagine this book was written in Comic Sans. Would this choice impact your image of me as an author, despite causing no literal change to the content within? Generally, discussions of how language variants influence interpretation of language acts/users have focused on variation in speech. But it is important to remember that specific ways of repre…
 
The drums beat, an old man in a grand robe mutters incantation and three brides on horseback led by their grooms on foot proceed to the Naxi Wedding Courtyard, accompanied, watched and photographed the whole way by tourists, who have bought tickets for the privilege. The traditional wedding ceremonies are performed for the ethnic tourism industry i…
 
What happens to everyday-life in a city when it becomes subsumed into an empire? Who becomes responsible for the everyday building and management of the new imperial enclave? How do local residents and colonial settlers manage to live side-by-side in new imperial arrangements? In Constructing Empire: The Japanese in Changchun, 1905-45 (University o…
 
In The Chinese Revolution on the Tibetan Frontier (Cornell University Press, 2020) Benno Weiner provides an in-depth study of what happened when the Chinese Revolution came to Amdo, a Tibetan region in the Sino-Tibetan borderland. Focusing primarily on the 1950s, Weiner demonstrates that the Chinese Communist Party wasn't just trying to build a sta…
 
Ian M. Miller’s book Fir and Empire: The Transformation of Forests in Early Modern China (University of Washington Press, 2020) offers a transformation of our understanding of China’s early modern environmental history. Using a wide range of archival materials, including tax, deed, and timber market records, Miller presents a picture of China’s for…
 
As well as presenting practical challenges, addressing the question ‘what is it like in North Korea?’ raises ethical concerns around who is entitled to interpret life in a place so often discussed in luridly exoticizing terms. The awareness of authorial position and sensitivity to shared humanity which runs through Andray Abrahamian’s Being in Nort…
 
Many of the millions of workers streaming in from rural China to jobs at urban factories soon find themselves in new kinds of poverty and oppression. Yet, their individual experiences are far more nuanced than popular narratives might suggest. Rural Origins, City Lives: Class and Place in Contemporary China (U Washington Press, 2016) probes long-he…
 
What is the role of the intellectual? Is violence, not to mention radical change, necessary? Can there be a revolution without them? Realistic Revolution: Contesting Chinese History, Culture, and Politics after 1989 by Els van Dongen (Cambridge University Press, 2019) analyses a series of debates in the early 1990s between Chinese intellectuals as …
 
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