Episódios

  • 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 attention away from the sea and in the process, became essentially continental and landlocked. 
    In fifteen chapters, this edited volume re-centers the study of Japanese religions on the coastal peripheries and calls for a geo-philosophy of the sea, or, a thalassosophy. Rambelli reminds us that "there is no sustained study in the intellectual history of the sea in Japan," and in fact, "we know very little about Japanese conceptualizations of the sea, not only in religious thought, but also in cosmology and premodern scientific discourses." This edited volume is thus an attempt to fill this knowledge gap and is the first book of its kind to focus on the role of the sea in Japanese religions. 
    Daigengna Duoer is a Ph.D. student at the Religious Studies Department, University of California, Santa Barbara. 
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  • 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 within the larger context of the Cold War. Among its historiographical contributions, Managing a Free World pushes back the timeline of the student movement’s origins to occupation-era policies, explores the role of subsequent American cultural diplomacy in combating the Marxist bent of major student organizations, and spotlights the particular importance of Okinawa in the development and ultimate neutralization of leftist activism in postwar Japan. Koda highlights the Kennedy administration’s “Kennedy-Reischauer Offensive” and promotion of modernization theory amongst intellectuals on the one hand and effective promotion of American democratic ideals in driving fissures in the New Left.
    In contrast, Co-Ed Revolution focuses on the convoluted gender dynamics of the campus-based New Left. Schieder approaches this issue from a number of different angles, including the media-manufactured public memory of a number of important women activists such as Kanba Michiko, killed in demonstrations against renewal of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, and the “titillating and terrifying” figures of the so-called “Gewalt Rosas” of the student movement such as Kashiwazaki Chieko. In addition to these analyses of both individual thinkers and their transformation into manipulable media spectacles, Schieder also shows that the historiographical tendency to focus on the aggressive and violent masculinity of the New Left in the late 1960s not only minimizes the role of women in the campus-based New Left, but does so in a way that repeats the internal gender politics of the movement itself; the “masculine ideal of political action” justified and masked the way that women were relegated to support and care work.
    These two books are part of a wave of recent scholarship reexamining the student movement and New Left in Japan from fresh angles, and seeing the campus protests of the 1960s as both a distinctly Japanese history and part of larger global currents.
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  • 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 traditions in various ways since the 1980s. 
    In the post-Mao era, Buddhism in China has been able to become a more visible, social, and cultural phenomenon. The editors of Buddhism after Mao: Negotiations, Continuities, and Reinventions (U Hawaii Press, 2020), Ji Zhe, Gareth Fisher, and André Laliberté observes: "Numerous temples and monasteries have received official permission and even encouragement to rebuild and expand, and the party-state has directly engaged Buddhist groups in activities to promote social welfare, national unity, and the PRC's soft power." Despite Buddhism's current size and influence in the PRC, the editors argue, it has received relatively little scholarly attention. Together with nine other scholars of modern and contemporary Buddhism in China, Buddhism After Mao attempts to fill this gap. 
    Ji, Fisher, and Laliberté point out that first of all, the rapid growth of Buddhism in the past few decades and its continued survival into the future has depended on the maintenance of a careful balance between varying interests and demands. This balance is achieved through negotiation, continuities, and reinventions, which also categorize the chapters of the book. 
    On the one hand, Buddhists have been negotiating with the post-Mao authoritarian and atheist state to maintain or expand legal spaces for Buddhist practices. On the other hand, Buddhists have been expected to rebuild or maintain continuities with the past to stay "legitimate" in both the state and society's eyes. However, through these processes of tension and negotiation, the contributors of the volume also observe innovations and inventions in Buddhist communities in contemporary China, which have emerged from both design and necessity on both discursive and practical levels. 
    Daigengna Duoer is a Ph.D. student at the Religious Studies Department, University of California, Santa Barbara.
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  • 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 commercial transactions in textual production and circulation.
    Combining approaches from various disciplines, such as history of the book, literary criticism, and bibliographical and textual studies, Suyoung Son reconstructs the publishing practices of two seventeenth-century literati-cum-publishers, Zhang Chao in Yangzhou and Wang Zhuo in Hangzhou, and explores the ramifications of these practices on eighteenth-century censorship campaigns in Qing China and Chosŏn Korea. By giving due weight to the writers as active agents in increasing the influence of print, this book underscores the contingent nature of print’s effect and its role in establishing the textual authority that the literati community, commercial book market, and imperial authorities competed to claim in late imperial China.
    Suyoung Son is an Associate Professor at Cornell University. She is a literary and cultural historian of early modern China (1500-1900).
    Aliki Semertzi is a PhD Candidate in International Law, at the Geneva Graduate Institute.
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  • 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 bodyguard to the head of the Jesuits in Asia, with whom he visited India, China and the budding Catholic missions in Japan. From the volatile port city of Nagasaki to travel on pirate-infested waters, he lived it all and learned more every day. His arrival in Kyoto, however, literally caused a riot. Most Japanese people had never seen an African man before, and many of them viewed him as the embodiment of the black-skinned (in local traditions) Buddha or a local war god or demon. Among those who were drawn to his presence were Lord Nobunaga, head of the most powerful clan in Japan, who made Yasuke a samurai in his court. Soon, he was learning the traditions of Japan's martial arts, fighting in battles and ascending to the upper echelons of Japanese society. In the four hundred years since, Yasuke has been known in Japan largely as a legendary, perhaps mythical, figure. Now, combining all the primary sources for the first time, African Samurai: The True Story of Yasuke, a Legendary Black Warrior in Feudal Japan (Hanover Square Press, 2021) presents the never-before-told biography of this unique figure of the sixteenth century, one whose travels between countries, cultures and classes offers a new perspective on race in world history and a vivid portrait of life, faith and war in medieval Japan.
    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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  • 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 produced.
    – Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China’s War with Japan 1937-45
    Understanding China and its approach to policy formation in various political and economic spheres of the 21st century needs to recognize this influential country’s historical reference points in order to better grasp its sensitivities and the interwoven nature of its relationships with the west. One way to commit to such an educational undertaking is through the highly accessible scholarship of Rana Mitter, Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China at Oxford University. His interesting and readable works cover much of contemporary Chinese history, and his most recent book, China’s Good War: how World War II is shaping a new nationalism was published last year by Harvard University Press, and thoroughly covered on the New Books Network East Asian Studies with Daigengna Duoer in December 2020 – well worth a careful listen.
    Today’s interview introduces Professor Mitter’s four previous books revealing people significant to the political and social history of early to mid-20th century China, as well as his smart summary of modern China – part of Oxford’s Very Short Introduction series. Mitter’s framing of his historical narratives help provide an understanding of a Chinese nation composed of individuals confronting stark choices, and revealing what it means to be Chinese. Along with his latest book China’s Good War, those interested in the contemporary arc of social history and the development of a political system are well advised to dig into Mitter’s books which can be nicely supplemented with his well-articulated thoughts on BBC radio programs and his 2015 Asia History Channel documentary, “The Longest War: China’s World War II.”
    His first four books briefly discussed today start in 2000 with the University of California Press release of:


    The Manchurian Myth: Nationalism, Resistance and Collaboration in Modern China;


    A Bitter Revolution: China’s Struggle with the Modern World (Oxford University Press, 2004)


    Modern China: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2008)


    Forgotten Ally: China’s World War II, 1937-1945 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013)

    Rana’s contributions to China studies and scholarship since receiving his PhD from Cambridge University include not only his books, journal articles, and chapters in edited books, but regular contributions to reviews and essays for the Financial Times, Guardian, and International New York Times among others.
    Rana Mitter is currently Director of the Oxford University China Center, and is currently working on the connections between war and nationalism in China from the 1930s to the present. His interests include the Republican period (1912-1949), the Cold War and Sino-Japanese relations.
    Keith Krueger lectures at SILC Business School – Shanghai University
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  • 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 University Press) in which she explains how grassroots groups organizing around sexual identity have achieved significant social change—in terms of visibility, social acceptance, and participation—in virtual absence of public protest, and under conditions of tightening governmental control over civil society groups. But, more pertinently to our special series, our guest tells us about what drew her to the project, and the kinds of dilemmas, issues, and opportunities that marked her fieldwork in the region. For instance, she walks us through what it is like to do ethnographic fieldwork on a cruise ship! We also chat about what it means to do ethnographic observations online and why teaching digital ethnographic methods is a welcome opportunity to rethink our very dated presumptions around physical co-presence in fieldwork being desirable to gather more “authentic” data.
    In all, tune in for a very candid, witty, and insightful conversation around fieldwork and for a dose of Dr. Fugazzola’s vivacious and contagious energy for the affordances of digital ethnography.
    Learn more about Ethnographic Marginalia here.
    Dr. Caterina Fugazzola is is an Earl S. Johnson Instructor in Sociology. Her general interests include social movements, gender and sexuality studies, transnational sociology, and qualitative research methods.
    Dr. Sneha Annavarapu is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Chicago.
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  • 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 both the comfort women movement and also the political and social context in which that movement arose and continues today. 
    Part 2: Activist Narratives, includes four chapters. Chapters 3-5 look at different ways that activists in Japan―primarily Japanese women responding directly or indirectly to the testimony of survivors―have approached the “comfort women” issue. 
    Tai tells the stories of two or three representative activists in each of these chapters, and demonstrates how they encapsulate a particular way of being “activists in the perpetrator state.” Chapter 6 follows the same structural approach, but ties together some of the threads from previous chapters in its analysis of the transnational feminism that led to the Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal in 2000. 
    The book’s conclusion contrasts this approach with the thought of feminist scholar Ōgoshi Aiko, and introduces the idea of “Feminism against Japan’s Military Sexual Violence,” the title of Chapter 7. 
    Because it breaks new ground in understanding not just the question of military sexual violence, but also the histories of philosophical and activist feminisms, Comfort Women Activism will be of interest to historians of East Asia, gender, social movements, and more.
    Nathan Hopson is an associate professor of Japanese and East Asian history in the Graduate School of Humanities, Nagoya University.
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  • 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 institutions like the International Monetary Fund and set their own policy agendas. But not all resource-exporting countries that benefited from the commodity boom took this path away from neoliberalism. 
    In his new book In China’s Wake: How the Commodity Boom Transformed Development Strategies in the Global South (Columbia University Press 2020), Jepson uses fieldwork, interviews, and qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) to identify and describe five typologies of resource exporters during the boom and the factors that contributed to differing development strategies and trajectories. China’s rise has had profound consequences on the processes of global capitalism, and this can be observed most clearly in the fortunes of commodity-exporting countries of the Global South. In China’s Wake explores fascinating case studies of countries in Asia, Latin America, and Africa to demonstrate the wide-ranging impact of China’s growth.
    Laurie Dickmeyer is an Assistant Professor of History at Angelo State University, where she teaches courses in Asian and US history. Her research concerns nineteenth-century US-China relations. She can be reached at laurie.dickmeyer@angelo.edu and on Twitter @LDickmeyer.
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  • 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 the early 1910s to the early 1930s, this contest changed Chinese and Japanese perceptions of ‘Asia’, from a concept that was foreign-referential, foreign-imposed, peripheral, and mostly negative and denied (in Japan) or largely ignored (in China) to one that was self-referential, self-defined, central, and widely affirmed and embraced. 
    As an ism, Asianism elevated ‘Asia’ as a geographical concept with culturalist-racialist implications to the status of a full-blown political principle and encouraged its proposal and discussion vis-à-vis other political doctrines of the time, such as nationalism, internationalism, and imperialism. By the mid-1920s, a great variety of conceptions of Asianism had emerged in the transnational discourse between Japan and China. Terminologically and conceptually, they not only paved the way for the appropriation of ‘Asia’ discourse by Japanese imperialism from the early 1930s onwards but also facilitated the embrace of Sino-centric conceptions of Asianism by Chinese politicians and collaborators.
    Dr. Torsten Weber is a historian of modern and contemporary East Asia specializing in the history of Japanese-Chinese relations and interactions.
    Samee Siddiqui is a former journalist who is currently a PhD Candidate at the Department of History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His dissertation explores discussions relating to religion, race, and empire between South Asian and Japanese figures in Tokyo from 1905 until 1945. You can find him on twitter @ssiddiqui83
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  • 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 New Geopolitics: Essays on Reshaping the Indo-Pacific (Hoover Institution Press, 2020) Auslin examines the key issues that are changing the balance of power in Indo-China and globally. He examines China's aggressive global policies and strategies, and its attempts to bend the world to its wishes. 
    He argues that the global focus on the Sino-US competition for power has obscured "Asia's other great game" - the rivalry between long-time foes, China and Japan. He questions whether Kim-Jong-un can control his nuclear weaponry and the implications for safety if he cannot. 
    Auslin examines the plight of women in India and asks whether its "missing women" are potentially hampering any role that India might play on the global stage. Underlying these concerns, the book analyses U.S. strategy in region. If there is be a shift in the global balance of power, what role can and should the U.S. take in limiting China's hegemony? 
    The dramatic final chapter paints a bleak picture of a Sino-American Littoral war in the very near future. Is this the geopolitical trajectory in the Indo-Pacific? Michael R. Auslin offers a "future-history" of what soon could be. 
    Michael Auslin, PhD, is the Payson J. Treat Distinguished Research Fellow in Contemporary Asia at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. A historian by training, he specializes in US policy in Asia and geopolitical issues in the Indo-Pacific region.  
    Jane Richards is a doctoral student at the University of Hong Kong. You can find her on twitter where she follows all things related to human rights and Hong Kong politics @JaneRichardsHK
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  • 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 Catholic survivors share personal and compelling stories about the aftermath of the bomb and their lives since that day. 
    Examining the Catholic community’s interpretation of the A-bomb, this book not only uses memory to provide a greater understanding of the destruction of the bombing, but also links it to the past experiences of religious persecution, drawing comparisons with the ‘Secret Christian’ groups which survived in the Japanese countryside after the banning of Christianity. 
    Through in-depth interviews, it emerges that the memory of the atomic bomb is viewed through the lens of a community which had experienced suffering and marginalisation for more than 400 years. Furthermore, it argues that their dangerous memory confronts Euro-American-centric narratives of the atomic bombings, whilst also challenging assumptions around a providential bomb. Dangerous Memory in Nagasaki presents the voices of Catholics, many of whom have not spoken of their losses within the framework of their faith before. As such, it will be invaluable to students and scholars of Japanese history, religion and war history.
    I asked Gwyn about three questions that we could face when reflecting on the complex survivor narratives provided by the Catholic victims of the nuclear Holocaust in Japan, or more precisely, what the book refers to as the "dangerous memory in Nagasaki."  

    Do Nagasaki Christians and their unique intercultural Mariology (i.e., Maria kannon and Maria with a keloid scar) present any issues to today's theology (especially with regard to their possible reception by the Vatican)?

    How was John Paul II's visit to Nagasaki, which put an emphasis on human responsibility regarding war atrocities, received among the survivors who embraced the traditional interpretation of their losses as a sacrificial hansai (a burnt offering) or a part of setsuri (providence)? 

    How can the nation of Japan (both Catholics and the rest of the country) move forward in light of the dangerous memory of Nagasaki? 

    The author's responses to these questions reflected his intellectual virtue as a patient witness to the extraordinary life stories of the war victims in Nagasaki. The interview ends with a note of undying hope, the future possibility of transformative reconciliations that can move the whole country forward, while doing justice to dangerous memories.   
    Gwyn McClelland holds a Master of Divinity from the University of Divinity, Melbourne, Australia and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Japanese history from Monash University. He is the winner of the 2019 John Legge prize for best thesis in Asian Studies, awarded by the Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA).
    Takeshi Morisato is a philosopher and sometimes academic. He specializes in comparative and Japanese philosophy but he is also interested in making Japan and philosophy accessible to a wider audience.
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  • 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 international viewership. He approaches difficult subjects (child abandonment, suicide, marginality) with a realistic and compassionate eye. The lyrical tone of the writing of Japanese film scholar Linda C. Ehrlich perfectly complements the understated, yet powerful, tone of the films. From An Elemental Cinema, readers will gain a special understanding of Kore-eda’s films through a novel connection to the natural elements as reflected in Japanese traditional aesthetics. An Elemental Cinema presents Kore-eda’s oeuvre as a connected whole with overarching thematic concerns, despite frequent generic experimentation. It also offers an example of how the poetics of cinema can be practiced in writing, as well as on the screen, and helps readers understand the films of this contemporary director as works of art that relate to their own lives.
    Linda C. Ehrlich—writer, teacher, editor—has published extensively about world cinema, art, and traditional theatre in a number of acclaimed academic journals.
    Takeshi Morisato is philosopher and sometimes academic. He specializes in comparative and Japanese philosophy but he is also interested in making Japan and philosophy accessible to a wider audience.
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  • 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 annotated by Tao Hongjing (456–536), whose notes provide a window into textual and literary practices of medieval China. The fragments themselves are richly informative not only about divine beings and celestial realms but also about the social world in which these revelations were made, and the interactions between Daoism and Buddhism. In A Fourth-Century Daoist Family: The Zhen’gao, or Declarations of the Perfected, Volume 1 (University of California Press, 2020), these texts are translated and introduced by Stephen R. Bokenkamp, one of the world’s foremost scholars on early Daoist texts.
    Stephen R. Bokenkamp is Regents Professor of Chinese Religion at Arizona State University.
    Natasha Heller is associate professor of Chinese Religion in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia.
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  • 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 Buddhists who traveled to South Asia in search of Buddhist knowledge beginning in 1873. Analyzing the impact of these voyages on Japanese conceptions of Buddhism, he argues that South Asia developed into a pivotal nexus for the development of twentieth-century Japanese Buddhism. Jaffe shows that Japan’s growing economic ties to the subcontinent following World War I fostered even more Japanese pilgrimage and study at Buddhism’s foundational sites. Tracking the Japanese travelers who returned home, as well as South Asians who visited Japan, Jaffe describes how the resulting flows of knowledge, personal connections, linguistic expertise, and material artifacts of South and Southeast Asian Buddhism instantiated the growing popular consciousness of Buddhism as a pan-Asian tradition—in the heart of Japan.
    Dr. Richard M Jaffe is a Religious Studies Professor at Duke University focusing on Japanese Buddhism. He is also the director of the Asian/Pacific Studies Institute at Duke.
    Samee Siddiqui is a former journalist who is currently a PhD Candidate at the Department of History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His dissertation explores discussions relating to religion, race, and empire between South Asian and Japanese figures in Tokyo from 1905 until 1945. You can find him on twitter @ssiddiqui83
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  • 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 in Lijiang, a World Heritage town in southwest China. 
    Heritage and Romantic Consumption in China (Amsterdam UP, 2018) examines how heritage interacts with social-cultural changes and how individuals perform and negotiate their identities through daily practices that include tourism, on the one hand, and the performance of ethnicity on the other. The wedding performances in Lijiang not only serve as a heritage 'product' but show how the heritage and tourism industry helps to shape people's values, dreams and expectations. This book also explores the rise of 'romantic consumerism' in contemporary China. Chinese dissatisfaction with the urban mundane leads to romanticized interests in practices and people deemed to be natural, ethnic, spiritual and aesthetic, and a search for tradition and authenticity. But what, exactly, are tradition and authenticity, and what happens to them when they are turned into performance?
    Yujie Zhu is a Lecturer at the School of Archaeology and Anthropology, Australian National University. He is the co-editor of Politics of Scale and Sustainable Tourism Management at World Heritage Sites.
    Victoria Oana Lupașcu is an Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature and Asian Studies at University of Montréal. Her areas of interest include medical humanities, visual art, 20th and 21st Chinese, Brazilian and Romanian literature and Global South studies.
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  • 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 representing a language are also often perceived as linked to specific social actors. Nowhere is this fact more relevant than in written Japanese, where a complex history has created a situation where authors can represent any sentence element in three distinct scripts. 
    In Scripting Japan: Orthography, Variation, and the Creation of Meaning in Written Japanese (Routledge, 2020), Wesley Robertson provides the first investigation into the ways Japanese authors and their readers engage with this potential for script variation as a social language practice, looking at how purely script-based language choices reflect social ideologies, become linked to language users, and influence the total meaning created by language acts. Throughout the text, analysis of data from multiple studies examines how Japanese language users' experiences with the script variation all around them influence how they engage with, produce, and understand both orthographic variation and major social divides, ultimately evidencing that even the avoidance of variation can become a socially significant act in Japan.
    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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  • 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 twentieth-century that often focus on institutions such as the Mentsikhang, Tibetan Medical College, and TAR Tibetan Pharmaceutical Factory, Theresia Hofer follows and traces the medical work of local Tibetan doctors in rural settings in Tsang and in Shigatse Town.
    By centering on amchis who were not part of the Tibetan state-sponsored medical structures that were incorporated into the PRC socialist health care system in the 1950s, Hofer reveals perspectives and experiences that have been overlooked in national and institutional narratives. Drawing on literature addressing Tibetan amchis' memory and oral history in socialist and postsocialist contexts, Hofer also inquires into the social and political dynamics that influence memory and history-making, especially with regard to the violent past. Medicine and Memory in Tibet also consistently considers gender and aims to tackle the lack of understanding of gender in Tibetan medicine in the twentieth century. The perspectives of the amchis allow the inclusion of more women in the study of Tibetan medicine and uncover different subaltern histories of the Tibetan experience.  
    Medicine and Memory in Tibet demonstrates that amchis outside of major state-sponsored institutions have continued to contribute significantly to the survival and revival of Tibetan medicine and culture into the present day. Through the amchis' negotiations and agency within the new regime since the 1950s, Tibetan medicine was able to not only become an important health care resource for Tibetans and the state into the 1990s, it also became a stronghold for the preservation and revival of other aspects of Tibetan culture, language, and the local economy in contemporary China. 
    Daigengna Duoer is a Ph.D. student at the Religious Studies Department, University of California, Santa Barbara. Her dissertation is a digital humanities project mapping transnational and transregional Buddhist networks connecting twentieth-century Inner Mongolia, Manchuria, Republican China, Tibet, and the Japanese Empire.
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  • 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 state during this period — it was trying to build a nation. Under the banner of the “United Front” the CCP attempted to gradually, voluntarily, and organically bring Amdo into the modern, Socialist, and multi-ethnic nation. In this meticulously researched book Weiner examines why and how this failed, and the violent and painful consequences of that failure.
    The Chinese Revolution on the Tibetan Frontier is an important read for those interested in the history of Amdo, the Sino-Tibetan borderland, and modern Chinese history more broadly. It is also crucial and timely reading for anyone looking to understand contemporary China, and in particular why the CCP continues to struggle to persuade Tibetans (and those in other ethnic minority regions) of their membership in the modern Chinese nation today. 
    Sarah Bramao-Ramos is a PhD candidate in History and East Asian Languages at Harvard. She works on Manchu language books and is interested in anything with a kesike.
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  • 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 of British Columbia Press 2019), Bill Sewell examines how Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian, and other civilians in northeast Asia sought to inscribe Manchuria as theirs, and how Japanese imperial architects and civilians in Changchun engaged in diverse empire-building efforts that transformed the city into a modern urban capital for the puppet state of Manchukuo. Sewell argues that "Constructing empire was a mundane and popularly imagined affair as well as a diplomatic, political, and military one." Although studies on empire tend to focus on elite decisions or actions, Sewell contends that "popular dimensions must also be considered to grasp fully empire's nature."
    Constructing Empire also reminds us that Changchun, a city in northeast China and today's Jilin province, was a regional trade hub in Qing Inner Asia before the arrival of foreign empire builders. Although the land on which the city was built originally belonged to the Mongolian Front Gorlos Banner, Changchun's first cityscape was constructed by its Chinese settlers in the Qing. After the Russo-Japanese War, Changchun became a boundary between the Russian and Japanese spheres of influence in northeast China and a transfer point for travel between Europe and Asia.
    Although the Japanese presence in Manchuria was initially under military authority following the Russo-Japanese War, Sewell observes that the presence of Japanese civilians became increasingly strong after the South Manchuria Railway Company (Mantetsu) established transportation infrastructures, coal mines, power-generation facilities, factories, experimental farms, and railway-zone towns.
    Under Japanese occupation, Changchun was renamed Xinjing (J: Shinkyō) and became the capital of the puppet state of Manchukuo. Sewell shows that constructing empire in Xinjing occurred in diverse contexts and was motivated by colonial imaginaries that allowed Japanese civilians to perceive the urban city and its spaces as places of work, worship, recreation, and residence. 
    Residents of Xinjing were also segregated between the Chinese, Koreans, and the Japanese, with access to spaces and resources in the city unequally distributed. Sewell points out that behind the façades of Pan-Asianism, the Japanese recreated in Xinjing much of the lifestyle that characterized life back home, demonstrating that "there was a closer allegiance to Japanese customs and society than to anything broadly Pan-Asia."
    Daigengna Duoer is a PhD student at the Religious Studies Department, University of California, Santa Barbara. Her dissertation researches on transnational and transregional Buddhist networks connecting twentieth-century Inner Mongolia, Manchuria, Republican China, Tibet, and the Japanese Empire.
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