Episodios

  • On the podcast today, I am joined by Professor Anru Lee, who is professor of anthropology at John Jay College, the City University of New York. Anru will be talking about her new book, Haunted Modernities: Gender, Memory and Placemaking in Postindustrial Taiwan, which was published just last year in 2023 by University of Hawai’i Press.
    Haunted Modernities interrogates the nature of shared expressions of history, sentiment and memory as it investigates the role of the tragic death of twenty-five unwed women who drowned in a ferry accident on their way to work in factories in Taiwan’s Kaohsiung Export Processing Zone. By exploring the ways in which the deceased young women were perceived to “haunt” the living and the diverse renovations recommended, Professor Anru Lee illuminates how women workers in Taiwan have been conceptualized in the last several decades. In their proposals to renovate a memorial tomb in honor of their death, the interested parties forged specific accounts of history, transforming the collective burial site according to varying definitions of “heritage” as Taiwan shifted to a postindustrial economy, where factory jobs were no longer the main source of employment. Their plans engaged with acts of remembering—communal and individual—to create new ways of understanding the present. Haunted Modernities is a beautiful piece of scholar work that elucidates how “history” and “memory” are not simply about the past but part of a forward-looking process that emerges from the social, political, and economic needs of the present, legitimized and validated through its associations with the past.
    Dr. Suvi Rautio is an anthropologist of China.
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  • Florence Mok's book Covert Colonialism: Governance, Surveillance and Political Culture in British Hong Kong, c.1966-97 (Manchester UP, 2023) is timely and exciting for those who are interested in colonial governance and autonomy of the colonial polity. This is a long-ignored area in which colonial historians have made major interventions. Moving away from the existing focus on theories by political scientists and sociologists, this book uses under-exploited archival and unofficial data in London and Hong Kong to construct an empirical study of colonial governance and political culture in Hong Kong during a critical period. From 1966 to 1997, while in mainland China, the Cultural Revolution broke out and caused chaos, in other British colonies beginning or having completed decolonisation, in Hong Kong, the Star Ferry riots in 1966 gave rise to the setup of Town Talk, later MOOD, and then Talking Points, which were used to monitor and construct public opinions and feedback to policy making by the colonial government, thus titled ‘Covert Colonialism’.
    With seven cases featuring different communities, Florence shows how Hong Kong has become a democratic polity through these strategies mobilised by the colonial government. Failing to import the Western democratic framework into Hong Kong, the colonial government implemented an indirect way to allow the public to participate in the policymaking process and gradually shift Hong Kong people’s sentiments towards both mainland China and its coloniser. This book challenges the erroneous myth of political apathy and stability in Hong Kong, which was embraced by politicians. It will also generate meaningful discussions and heated debates on comparisons between ‘colonialism’ in different spaces and time: between Hong Kong and other former British colonies; and between colonial and post-colonial Hong Kong.
    Florence Mok is a Nanyang Assistant Professor of History at Nanyang Technological University. She is a historian of colonial Hong Kong and modern China, with an interest in environmental history, the Cold War and state-society relations. She received her BA and MA in History from Durham University. She completed her PhD in History at the University of York in 2019. Her doctoral research examined governance and political culture in 1970s Hong Kong. Her postdoctoral project explored Chinese Communist cultural activities in colonial Hong Kong during the Cold War. She is currently studying the history of natural disasters and crisis management.
    Bing Wang receives her PhD at the University of Leeds in 2020. Her research interests include exploring overseas Chinese cultural identity and critical heritage studies.
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  • In the early 1990s, Mongolia began a transition from socialism to a market democracy. In the process, the country became more than ever dependent on international mining revenue. Nearly thirty years later, many of Mongolia's poor and rural feel that, rather than share in the prosperity the transition was supposed to spread, they have been forgotten.
    Moral Economic Transitions in the Mongolian Borderlands (UCL Press, 2023) analyzes this period of change from the viewpoint of the rural township of Magtaal on the Chinese border. After the end of socialism, the population of this resource-rich area found itself without employment or state institutions yet surrounded by lush nature and mere kilometers from the voracious Chinese market. A two-tiered resource-extractive political-economic system developed. At the same time as large-scale, formal, legally sanctioned conglomerates arrived to extract oil and other resources, local residents grew increasingly dependent on the Chinese-funded informal, illegal cross-border wildlife trade. More than a story about rampant capitalist extraction in the resource frontier, this book intimately details the complex inner worlds, moral ambiguities, and emergent collective politics constructed by individuals who feel caught in political-economic shifts that are largely outside of their control.
    Hedwig Amelia Waters is a Horizon Europe European Research Area Postdoctoral Fellow at Palacky University in the Czech Republic.
    Caleb Zakarin is the Assistant Editor of the New Books Network.
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  • Why do so many contemporary Chinese artists use porcelain in their work? How do artists make sense of the legacy that porcelain has in China, and how do they use it to transmit ideas about China, Chinese art, and Chinese culture?
    In New Export China: Translations across Time and Place in Contemporary Chinese Porcelain Art (University of California Press, 2023), Alex Burchmore explores the place of ceramics in the work of four artists: Liu Jianhua, Ai Weiwei, Ah Xian, and Sin-ying Ho. By unpacking the history of porcelain production and export in China, the way artists make use of the unique features of ceramics, and the global reception of ceramics, Burchmore effectively demonstrates why understanding ceramics is central to understanding Chinese contemporary art. Filled with wonderfully nuanced readings of artworks and equally beautiful images, this book is sure to be of interest to readers looking to learn more about contemporary art and porcelain, and anyone looking to think about phrases like "Chinese art" and "mass production" in new ways. 
    Sarah Bramao-Ramos is a Research Assistant Professor at the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at the University of Hong Kong. She can be reached at [email protected]
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  • In Among the Braves Hope, Struggle, and Exile in the Battles for Hong Kong and the Future of Global Democracy (Hachette, 2023) Shibani Mahtani and Timothy McLaughlin tell the story of Hong Kong's demise from Two Systems to One Country through the eyes of some of its key actors in the 2019 Anti-Extradition protests. In their richly evocative narrative, Mahtani and McLaughlin draw on their on-the-ground reporting, and weave this through a historical account to foreground the fight of the frontline protestors, referred to in Cantonese as "The Braves", who felt they had no other choice but to resist Beijing's increasingly authoritarian governance. 
    In this interview, we discussed the way that the changing political landscape of Hong Kong is demonstrative of the fragility of democratic institutions. We spoke about attempts by Beijing to erase historical memory through the imposition of increasingly draconian laws. Mahtani and McLaughlin will provide listeners with insight as to why Hong Kong matters, and why the rest of the world should take notice of the global erosion of democratic freedoms. 
    Shibani Mahtani is an international investigative correspondent for the Washington Post. She was previously the Post's Hong Kong and Southeast Asia bureau chief and a correspondent for the Wall Street Journal based in Singapore, Yangon, and Chicago. Her Hong Kong coverage was honored with prizes including a Human Rights Press Award for an investigation into police misconduct. 
    Timothy McLaughlin is a prize-winning contributing writer for The Atlantic. Previously he worked for Reuters news agency. His work has also appeared in publications including WIRED, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and Prospect. He has won multiple awards for his Hong Kong coverage, including two Best in Business Awards from the Society for Advancing Business Editing, and is a two-time finalist for The Livingston Award for International Reporting.
    Jane Richards is a Lecturer in Law at York Law School, UK.
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  • Is Kiribati in the American lake, Indo-Pacific or Chinese Pacific? In this Episode, Julie Yu-Wen Chen talks to Rodolfo Maggio, a senior researcher at the University of Helsinki to conceptualize Kiribati as an interstitial island in the Chinese Pacific.
    Rodolfo Maggio is a social anthropologist of moral and economic values in the Asia-Pacific region. At the University of Helsinki, he is working on an ERC-funded project “properties of units and standards”. In 2023, he published an article in Political Geography that critically analyzes the case of a 2020 Chinese diplomatic visit in Kiribati. The event became known on August 16th, 2020, when Michael Field, a journalist writing with a focus on the South Pacific, posted a visually shocking photograph on Twitter. He typed the following words as a commentary to the exceptional circumstances that the picture depicted: “KIRIBATI - Event in which Chinese Ambassador Tang Songgen walked on backs of children as part of a welcome took place Friday/Saturday at Marakei, 80 km northeast of Tarawa, Kiribati”. Rodolfo Maggio uses his anthropological lens to clarify that the way the welcome ceremony for the Chinese diplomat has been enacted suggests that the “I-Kiribati political project” is far from being a passive acceptance of Chinese presence and influence in the Pacific Ocean.
    Julie Yu-Wen Chen is Professor of Chinese Studies at the Department of Cultures at the University of Helsinki (Finland) and visiting professor at the Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia at Mahidol University (Thailand). Dr. Chen serves as one of the editors of the Journal of Chinese Political Science (Springer, SSCI). Formerly, she was chair of Nordic Association of China Studies (NACS) and Editor-in-Chief of Asian Ethnicity (Taylor & Francis). Since 2023, she has been involved in the EU twinning project “The EU in the Volatile Indo-Pacific Region”, leading the preparatory research and providing supervision and counselling to junior researchers.
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  • Dr. Andy Jackson’s The Late and Post-Dictatorship Cinephilia Boom and Art Houses in South Korea (Edinburgh University Press, 2024) examines an unexplored area of South Korean cinema history – the 1985-1997 growth of art film exhibition, consumption, and cinephilia. This moment of heightened interest in art film altered how many Koreans conceptualised cinema and helped pave the way for the critical success of South Korean film. This historical study analyses the cultural, political, social, and economic developments of the post-1985 period that increased interest in European art film. It looks at the interactions of art house exhibitors with cinephile audiences, the media and the state-level administrators responsible for governing the industry. The aim of young cinephiles was nothing less than a bottom-up cultural transformation of a society emerging from three decades of dictatorship. The analysis is based on the previously unheard voices of audiences who participated in the cinephilia. This study is both a history of an era in Korean cinema and an argument about the impact of this period of cultural renewal on the industry.
    Andy Jackson is an Associate Professor in the Korean Studies programme at Monash University. He is also director of the Monash University Korean Studies Research Hub (MUKSRH) and current convenor of Korean Studies. His key research areas include the history of rebellion in Korea, premodern and modern Korean history, North and South Korean film and popular culture, invented traditions in Korea. Learn more about Monash University’s Korean Studies Research Hub here.
    Leslie Hickman is a translator and writer. She has an MA in Korean Studies from Yonsei University. You can follow her activities on X. 
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  • Conceptualising China through Translation (Manchester University Press, 2023) by Dr. James St Andre provides an innovative methodology for investigating how China has been conceptualised historically by tracing the development of four key cultural terms (filial piety, face, fengshui, and guanxi) between English and Chinese. It addresses how specific ideas about what constitutes the uniqueness of Chinese culture influence the ways users of these concepts think about China and themselves.
    Adopting a combination of archival research and mining of electronic databases, it documents how the translation process has been bound up in the production of new meaning.
    In uncovering how both sides of the translation process stand to be transformed by it, the study demonstrates the dialogic nature of translation and its potential contribution to cross-cultural understanding. It also aims to develop a foundation on which other area studies might build broader scholarship about global knowledge production and exchange.

    This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose forthcoming book focuses on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.
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  • A uniquely powerful marker of ethnic, gender, and class identities, scent can also overwhelm previously constructed boundaries and transform social-sensory realities within contexts of environmental degradation, pathogen outbreaks, and racial politics. Hannah Gould and Gwyn McClelland's edited volume Aromas of Asia: Exchanges, Histories, Threats (Penn State University Press, 2023) critically examines olfaction in Asian societies with the goal of unlocking its full potential as an analytical frame and lived phenomenon.
    Featuring contributions from international scholars with deep knowledge of the region, this volume conceptualizes Asia and its borders as a dynamic, transnationally connected space of olfactory exchange. Using examples such as trade along the Silk Road; the diffusion of dharmic religious traditions out of South Asia; the waves of invasion, colonization, and forced relocation that shaped the history of the continent; and other “sensory highways” of contact, the contributors break down essentializing olfactory tropes and reveal how scent functions as a category of social and moral boundary-marking and boundary-breaching within, between, and beyond Asian societies. Smell shapes individual, collective, and state-based memory, as well as discourses about heritage and power. As such, it suggests a pervasive and powerful intimacy that contributes to our understanding of the human condition, mobility, and interconnection.
    In addition to the editors, the contributors to this volume include Khoo Gaik Cheng, Jean Duruz, Qian Jia, Shivani Kapoor, Adam Liebman, Lorenzo Marinucci, Peter Romaskiewicz, Saki Tanada, Aubrey Tang, and Ruth E. Toulson.
    Rituparna Patgiri has a PhD in Sociology from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi. Her research interests lie in the areas of food, media, gender and public. She is also one of the co-founders of Doing Sociology. Patgiri can be reached at @Rituparna37 on Twitter.
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  • Kondo the Barbarian: A Japanese Adventurer and Indigenous Taiwan's Bloodiest Uprising (Eastbridge Books, 2023) is a gripping and revealing account of the colonial Japanese era in Taiwan, focusing on the Musha Rebellion and its brutal suppression by the Japanese military. The book presents the translated account of Kondō Katsusaburō, a Japanese adventurer who married into an indigenous Taiwanese family. Kondō's journals offer an intimate and personal perspective on the events, though they can also be unreliable and prone to sensationalism.
    To help readers navigate Kondō's account, Barclay has provided a deeply-researched introduction, extensive notes, and context essential to understanding what really happened during the Musha Rebellion. The book sheds light on the cultural clashes and sporadic violence that characterized Taiwan during this period. Through the writing of Kondō, interpreted and contextualized by Barclay, readers gain insight into the complexities of colonialism, imperialism, and indigenous resistance.
    The Musha Rebellion was a pivotal moment in the relationship between the indigenous people and the Japanese colonial government. In 1930, after years of oppression, the Seediq people of central Taiwan, led by Mona Rudao, attacked a gathering of Japanese people at a local school, slaughtering over one hundred men, women, and children. The Japanese military responded with overwhelming force, employing tactics including poison gas, artillery, and aerial bombardment to quell the rebellion.
    Barclay's book offers a fresh and engaging perspective on a tragic chapter in Taiwan's past, and the notes and context provided help readers understand the complexities of the events. The book is an important addition to the growing body of literature on Taiwan's history, and it underscores the power of personal narratives to illuminate broader historical themes. Kondo the Barbarian is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of Taiwan, the contradictions of colonialism, and the challenges of interpreting personal accounts of historical events.
    Ran Zwigenberg is an associate professor at Pennsylvania State University.
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  • Why did the letter-writing culture of Korea diversify in the sixteenth century? How did this “epistolary revolution” change textual norms, modes of knowledge production, the ways that people interacted, and the methods of political mobilization?
    The Power of the Brush: Epistolary Practices in Chosŏn Korea (U Washington Press, 2020) by Hwisang Cho tackles these questions, exploring the materiality of epistles in Chosŏn Korea. It demonstrates how letter-writing practices were used by women, Confucian scholars, and provincial schools — those who had no other means of political activism — to advance political goals, thus offering a new perspective on the relationship between writing and politics in the Chosŏn period. While The Power of the Brush does focus on Korea, it does a wonderful job of continually contextualizing Korea’s epistolary culture within a global context. The parallels that are drawn in this book between letter writing in Europe, America, Islamic societies, and East Asia thus offer entirely new perspectives on global letter writing. Beautifully written and rich in detail, this book should be of interest to scholars of Korean studies, the history of the book, and anyone who has ever sent off a missive of their own.
    The Power of the Brush is freely available in an open access edition thanks to TOME (Toward an Open Monograph Ecosystem) and the generous support of Emory University and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
    Sarah Bramao-Ramos is a Research Assistant Professor at the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at the University of Hong Kong. She can be reached at [email protected]
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  • In 2007, Japan’s health minister referred to women ages 15-50 as “birthing machines.” The context was a speech about Japan’s declining birthrate and projected population shrinkage. As Sujin Lee shows in Wombs of Empire: Population Discourses and Biopolitics in Modern Japan (Stanford UP, 2023), neither population anxieties nor the idea of women as childbearing devices whose wombs were the property of the state are new. However, when the “population problem” became a public preoccupation for politicians, scientists, and activists in the 1910s, it was an expression of worries about overpopulation and carrying capacity in a “resource-poor” nation and empire. Wombs of Empire traces the trajectory of population discourses and practices from these years through wartime Japan, with particular attention to the ways in which notions of motherhood were constructed hierarchically within the context of empire and war, and how Malthusian population control discourses formulated by leftists, feminists, scientists, and politicians gave way to the natalism of total war.
    Nathan Hopson is an associate professor of Japanese language and history in the University of Bergen's Department of Foreign Languages.
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  • Tibetan Buddhist Philosophy of Mind and Nature (Oxford UP, 2019) offers an engaging philosophical overview of Tibetan Buddhist thought. Integrating competing and complementary perspectives on the nature of mind and reality, Douglas Duckworth reveals the way that Buddhist theory informs Buddhist practice in various Tibetan traditions. Duckworth draws upon a contrast between phenomenology and ontology to highlight distinct starting points of inquiries into mind and nature in Buddhism, and to illuminate central issues confronted in Tibetan Buddhist philosophy.
    This thematic study engages some of the most difficult and critical topics in Buddhist thought, such as the nature of mind and the meaning of emptiness, across a wide range of philosophical traditions, including the "Middle Way" of Madhyamaka, Yogacara (also known as "Mind-Only"), and tantra. Duckworth provides a richly textured overview that explores the intersecting nature of mind, language, and world depicted in Tibetan Buddhist traditions. Further, this book puts Tibetan philosophy into conversation with texts and traditions from India, Europe, and America, exemplifying the possibility and potential for a transformative conversation in global philosophy.
    Dr. Tiatemsu Longkumer is a faculty in the Department of Anthropology at Royal Thimphu College, Bhutan. His academic pursuits center on the fields of Anthropology and the Philosophy of Religion.
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  • This episode’s host, Adina Zemanek, invited Sherry Lee, Chief Operating Officer and Deputy CEO of the non-profit, independent media organization The Reporter, for a conversation on a recent graphic journalism series, The Reporter File. We talked about what inspired the inauguration of this series and its role alongside traditional news reporting, the characteristics of these graphic narratives, pathways for establishing collaboration with the publisher of the print edition and with comics artists, other works of comics journalism published by The Reporter, and further plans.
    The two graphic narratives can be accessed at the following links: 留學黑工/Study Abroad Illegal Workers (volume 1, 2022) and 神木下的罪行/Crime Under the Sacred Trees (volume 2, 2023).
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  • Despite its extraordinary diversity, life in the People’s Republic of China is all too often viewed mainly through the lens of politics, with dynamics of top-down coercion and bottom-up resistance seen to predominate. Such a binary framing is particularly often applied to analyses of the country’s media which is understood in terms of mouthpieces of the party-state or vanishingly rare dissident voices. Yet as Maria Repnikova lucidly shows in her book Media Politics in China: Improvising Power under Authoritarianism (Cambridge University Press, 2017) there may be much more at play here than a straightforward cleavage between collaboration and resistance. Through discussion of the work of ‘critical journalists’ and their interactions with officialdom, Repnikova paints a rich and provocative picture of the flexible, creative, if nevertheless precarious, nature of state-media interactions whose implications go far beyond the media sphere.
    Repnikova suggests that journalistic ‘change-makers within the system’ (to whom the book is dedicated) delicately tread the “fringes of the permissible” (p. 11), pursuing a collaborative mode of investigative work in an environment which remains saturated with Party-state power. Conversely, the authorities benefit from an ability to learn from the media’s investigations, or use media as a propaganda channel, even as they frequently step in to restrict reporting work. Repnikova's multi-perspectival consideration of various key actors in this system, carried out through multilingual textual research and in-depth interviews, adds vital insight to our understanding of media, and state-society dynamics more generally, in non-Western and authoritarian contexts. Further enhancing this late in the book is a particularly compelling comparison with Soviet and Russian cases.
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  • Michael R. Sheehy and Klaus-Dieter Mathes's edited collection The Other Emptiness: Rethinking the Zhentong Buddhist Discourse in Tibet (SUNY Press, 2019) brings together perspectives of leading international Tibetan studies scholars on the subject of zhentong or “other-emptiness.” Defined as the emptiness of everything other than the continuous luminous awareness that is one’s own enlightened nature, this distinctive philosophical and contemplative presentation of emptiness is quite different from rangtong—emptiness that lacks independent existence, which has had a strong influence on the dissemination of Buddhist philosophy in the West. Important topics are addressed, including the history, literature, and philosophy of emptiness that have contributed to zhentong thinking in Tibet from the thirteenth century until today. The contributors examine a wide range of views on zhentong from each of the major orders of Tibetan Buddhism, highlighting the key Tibetan thinkers in the zhentong philosophical tradition. Also discussed are the early formulations of buddhanature, interpretations of cosmic time, polemical debates about emptiness in Tibet, the zhentong view of contemplation, and creative innovations of thought in Tibetan Buddhism. Highly accessible and informative, this book can be used as a scholarly resource as well as a textbook for teaching graduate and undergraduate courses on Buddhist philosophy.
    Sangseraima Ujeed, ACLS Robert H.N Ho Postdoctoral Fellow in Buddhist Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara received her MSt and DPhil degrees in Oriental Studies from the Department of Tibetan and Himalayan Studies, Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford. Her main research focus is the trans-national aspect of Buddhism, lineage and identity in Tibet and Mongolia in the Early Modern period, with a particular emphasis on the contributions made by ethnically Mongolian monk scholars.
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  • Ming China in 1642 had suffered a series of disasters. Floods, and then drought had destroyed successive rice crops, sending the price of grain to astronomical levels. As one schoolteacher wrote:
    “There was no rice in the market to buy. Even if a dealer had grain, people passed by without asking the price. The rich were reduced to scrounging for beans or wheat, the poor for chaff or rotting garbage. Being able to buy a few pecks of chaff or bark was ecstasy.”
    The Ming Dynasty collapsed two years later.
    Timothy Brook, in his latest book The Price of Collapse: The Little Ice Age and the Fall of Ming China (Princeton University Press: 2023), points to environmental disaster as the spark that helped cause the Ming Dynasty’s fall, relying on a history of surging prices to show how the over-275 year dynasty eventually fell to the Qing.
    In this interview, Timothy and I talk about inflation in Ming China, how it connects to climate change, and how short-term environmental shocks can cause a market to break down.
    Timothy Brook is professor emeritus of history at the University of British Columbia and a fellow of the British Academy. His many books include Great State: China and the World (Harper: 2020), Mr. Selden's Map of China: Decoding the Secrets of a Vanished Cartographer (Bloomsbury Press: 2013), and Vermeer's Hat: The Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World (Bloomsbury Publishing: 2009).
    You can find more reviews, excerpts, interviews, and essays at The Asian Review of Books, including its review of The Price of Collapse. Follow on Twitter at @BookReviewsAsia.
    Nicholas Gordon is an editor for a global magazine, and a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. He can be found on Twitter at @nickrigordon.
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  • Since the first translations of Lewis Carroll’s Alice books appeared in Japan in 1899, Alice has found her way into nearly every facet of Japanese life and popular culture. The books have been translated into Japanese more than 500 times, resulting in more editions of these works in Japanese than any other language except English. Generations of Japanese children learned English from textbooks containing Alice excerpts. Japan’s internationally famous fashion vogue, Lolita, merges Alice with French Rococo style. In Japan Alice is everywhere—in manga, literature, fine art, live-action film and television shows, anime, video games, clothing, restaurants, and household goods consumed by people of all ages and genders. 
    In Alice in Japanese Wonderlands: Translation, Adaptation, Mediation (U Hawaii Press, 2023), Amanda Kennell traverses the breadth of Alice’s Japanese media environment, starting in 1899 and continuing through 60s psychedelia and 70s intellectual fads to the present, showing how a set of nineteenth-century British children’s books became a vital element in Japanese popular culture. 
    Using Japan’s myriad adaptations to investigate how this modern media landscape developed, Kennell reveals how Alice connects different fields of cultural production and builds cohesion out of otherwise disparate media, artists, and consumers. The first sustained examination of Japanese Alice adaptations, her work probes the meaning of Alice in Wonderland as it was adapted by a cast of characters that includes the “father of the Japanese short story,” Ryūnosuke Akutagawa; the renowned pop artist Yayoi Kusama; and the best-selling manga collective CLAMP. While some may deride adaptive activities as mere copying, the form Alice takes in Japan today clearly reflects domestic considerations and creativity, not the desire to imitate. By engaging with studies of adaptation, literature, film, media, and popular culture, Kennell uses Japan’s proliferation of Alices to explore both Alice and the Japanese media environment.
    Jingyi Li is a PhD Candidate in Japanese History at the University of Arizona. She researches about early modern Japan, literati, and commercial publishing.
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  • Hongwei Bao’s book is a thoughtful exploration of gay identity and queer activism in China. This work stems from the term and identity tongzhi, which means “comrade” and in more recent decades has been a popular term to refer to gay people and sexual minorities more broadly. Based on ethnographic research and a solid theoretical base, Queer Comrades: Gay Identity and Tongzhi Activism in Postsocialist China (NIAS Press, 2018) explores queer identity, activism, and governmentality in China, where negotiations between socialism and neoliberalism play out. From a cultural studies perspective, Bao examines a variety of topics from queer spaces in urban centers such as Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou to conversion therapy diaries to queer film festivals. This book speaks to a wide variety of humanities and social science fields and will appeal to those interested in a fresh study of postsocialist China, gay identity formation, activism, and LGBT studies.
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  • “In Mao’s China, to curate revolution was to make it material.”
    Denise Y. Ho’s new book explores this premise in a masterful account of exhibitionary culture in the Mao period (1949-1976) and beyond. Curating Revolution: Politics on Display in Mao's China (Cambridge University Press, 2017) argues that “curating revolution taught people how to take part in revolution,” and it develops that argument in a series of case studies that take readers into the local context of museums, revolutionary monuments, model neighborhoods, and more in Shanghai, while paying careful attention to the ways that the Shanghai case resonates with the larger scope of Maoist China as a whole. It’s a study that will be of interest to readers of Chinese history, museum studies, material cultures, and more. Enjoy!
    Carla Nappi is the Andrew W. Mellon Chair in the Department of History at the University of Pittsburgh. You can learn more about her and her work here.
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