Episódios

  • The brutal assassination of Prime Minister Abe in July this year shocked Japan and has produced large and unexpected consequences for the nation´s politics. In this episode, we examine the fallout of the assassination on Abe’s legacy, and on Japan: What are the consequences of Abe's association with the Unification Church for the role of religion in politics more generally? How much of Abe's political legacy will survive his assassination? And, how has current Prime Minister Kishida and the LDP dealt with the challenges brought about by the controversial state funeral that was accorded to Abe?
    To discuss these questions, Kenneth Bo Nielsen is joined by a long-term collaborator, Paul Midford, professor of political science at Meiji Gakuin University in Yokohama.
    Kenneth Bo Nielsen is an Associate Professor at the dept. of Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo and one of the leaders of the Norwegian Network for Asian Studies.
    The Nordic Asia Podcast is a collaboration sharing expertise on Asia across the Nordic region, brought to you by the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS) based at the University of Copenhagen, along with our academic partners: the Centre for East Asian Studies at the University of Turku, the University of Helsinki, and Asianettverket at the University of Oslo.
    We aim to produce timely, topical and well-edited discussions of new research and developments about Asia.
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  • Outcasts of Empire: Japan’s Rule on Taiwan’s “Savage Border,” 1874-1945 (University of California Press, 2018) by Paul D. Barclay unveils the causes and consequences of capitalism’s failure to “batter down all Chinese walls” in modern Taiwan. Adopting micro- and macrohistorical perspectives, Barclay argues that the interpreters, chiefs, and trading-post operators who mediated state-society relations on Taiwan’s “savage border” during successive Qing and Japanese regimes rose to prominence and faded to obscurity in concert with a series of “long nineteenth century” global transformations.
    Superior firepower and large economic reserves ultimately enabled Japanese statesmen to discard mediators on the border and sideline a cohort of indigenous headmen who played both sides of the fence to maintain their chiefly status. Even with reluctant “allies” marginalized, however, the colonial state lacked sufficient resources to integrate Taiwan’s indigenes into its disciplinary apparatus. The colonial state therefore created the Indigenous Territory, which exists to this day as a legacy of Japanese imperialism, local initiatives, and the global commodification of culture.
    Outcasts of Empire is available as a free e-book via open access. Visit the University of California Press website to learn more.
    Paul D. Barclay is a Professor of History at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. His research interests include Japan and China, Indigenous Studies, comparative colonialism, and visual studies.
    Shatrunjay Mall is a PhD candidate in the Department of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He works on transnational Asian history, and his dissertation explores intellectual, political, and cultural intersections and affinities that emerged between Indian anti-colonialism and imperial Japan in the twentieth century.
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  • On August 6, 2020, the Trump Administration issued a ban on TikTok in the United States, requiring that the owner, Beijing-based Bytedance, sell the company to American investors or shut it down. Legions of TikTokers were devastated at the possible loss of their beloved platform, and for what: a political grudge with China? American suitors like Walmart and Oracle tried to make a deal with Bytedance to keep the platform operating in the US. But then something curious happened. The Chinese government refused to let Bytedance sell TikTok on national security grounds. As it turns out, the pandemic era platform for dance challenges is a Chinese government asset.
    As digital technologies and social media have evolved into organizing forces for the way in which we conduct our work and social lives, the business logic that undergirds these digital platforms has become clear: we are their product. We give these businesses information about everything--from where we live and work to what we like to do for entertainment, what we consume, where we travel, what we think politically, and with whom we are friends and acquaintances. We do this willingly, but often without a full understanding of how this information is stored or used, or what happens to it when it crosses international boundaries. As Aynne Kokas argues, both corporations and governments traffic much of this data without our consent--and sometimes illegally--for political and financial gain.
    In Trafficking Data: How China Is Winning the Battle for Digital Sovereignty (Oxford UP, 2022), Aynne Kokas looks at how technology firms in the two largest economies in the world, the United States and China, have exploited government policy (and the lack thereof) to gather information on citizens, putting US national security at risk. Kokas argues that US government leadership failures, Silicon Valley's disruption fetish, and Wall Street's addiction to growth have fuelled China's technological goldrush. In turn, American complacency yields an unprecedented opportunity for Chinese firms to gather data in the United States and quietly send it back to China, and by extension, to the Chinese government. Drawing on years of fieldwork in the US and China and a large trove of corporate and policy documents, Trafficking Data explains how China is fast becoming the global leader in internet governance and policy, and thus of the data that defines our public and private lives.
    Peter Lorentzen is economics professor at the University of San Francisco. He heads USF's Applied Economics Master's program, which focuses on the digital economy. His research is mainly on China's political economy.
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  • In Disability in Contemporary China: Citizenship, Identity and Culture (Cambridge UP, 2022), Sarah Dauncey offers the first comprehensive exploration of disability and citizenship in Chinese society and culture from 1949 to the present. Through the analysis of a wide variety of Chinese sources, from film and documentary to literature and life writing, media and state documents, she sheds important new light on the ways in which disability and disabled identities have been represented and negotiated over this time. She exposes the standards against which disabled people have been held as the Chinese state has grappled with expectations of what makes the 'ideal' Chinese citizen. From this, she proposes an exciting new theoretical framework for understanding disabled citizenship in different societies - 'para-citizenship'. A far more dynamic relationship of identity and belonging than previously imagined, her new reading synthesises the often troubling contradictions of citizenship for disabled people - the perils of bodily and mental difference and the potential for personal and group empowerment.
    Professor Sarah Dauncey is a China specialist with 30 years' experience in visiting and studying China. She joined the School of Sociology and Social Policy in 2016 at the University of Nottingham, having previously served as Deputy Head and Director of Teaching at the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies.
    Shu Wan is currently matriculated as a doctoral student in history at the University at Buffalo. As a digital and disability historian, he serves in the editorial team of Digital Humanities Quarterly and Nursing Clio.
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  • How do states coerce citizens into compliance while simultaneously minimizing backlash? In Outsourcing Repression: Everyday State Power in Contemporary China (Oxford UP, 2020), Lynette H. Ong examines how the Chinese state engages nonstate actors, from violent street gangsters to nonviolent grassroots brokers, to coerce and mobilize the masses for state pursuits, while reducing costs and minimizing resistance. She draws on ethnographic research conducted annually from 2011 to 2019--the years from Hu Jintao to Xi Jinping, a unique and original event dataset, and a collection of government regulations in a study of everyday land grabs and housing demolition in China. Her research highlights one of the ways in which modern authoritarians conceal their actions in order to maintain their popularity among ordinary citizens, a theme also explored in my earlier interview with Daniel Treisman about his book Spin Dictators.
    Author Lynette Ong is Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto, with a joint appointment at the Department of Political Science and the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy’s Asian Institute. Her other books are The Street and the Ballot Box: Interactions Between Social Movements and Electoral Politics in Authoritarian Contexts (Cambridge University Press, Elements Series in Contentious Politics, 2022), and Prosper or Perish: Credit and Fiscal Systems in Rural China (Cornell University Press, 2012), She has published research articles in Perspectives on Politics, Journal of Comparative Politics, China Quarterly, China Journal, Journal of Contemporary Asia, and other prominent journals. Here research has also been covered in the Economist, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and the South China Morning Post.
    Host Peter Lorentzen is the Chair of the Economics Department at the University of San Francisco. His research focus is the political economy of governance in China and he is a member of the National Committee on US-China Relations (NCUSCR) and USF’s new Center on Business Studies and Innovation in the Asia-Pacific.
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  • The eight-legged essay (bagu wen) was the one genre of writing that dominated in late imperial China. As the primary mode of expression in which men were schooled, writing and reading shiwen (modern or contemporary prose) epitomized literary production in Ming-Qing China, and it was vitally important for every  student, examination candidate, and examiner to master and know the genre intimately — but this genre hasn't yet been approached from a literary perspective. 
    Alexander Des Forges' new book Testing the Literary: Prose and the Aesthetic in Early Modern China (Harvard UP, 2021) does just that. Focusing on literary practice (the work of writing, reading, and commenting), this book explores how features such as literary voice, parallelism, subjectivity, and aesthetic originality were constructed in a genre not typically thought of as literature. Through careful reading, rich analysis, and the deft translation of eight-legged essays, Alex looks at prose aesthetics not as settled conclusions, but as features that prose writers developed, adhered to, and/or contested, all while they developed as a social class of literary producers.   
    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. She can be reached at [email protected]
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  • What does the concept of ecological civilisation mean in practice? And how can we understand the relationship between grand visions, legal systems, green politics and development processes on the ground in contemporary China?
    In this episode we focus on China’s environmental ambitions and its increasingly central role in efforts towards global sustainability, as well as the importance placed upon sustainable development by the Chinese Communist Party, and by Xi Jinping himself.
    To unpack these issues and discuss the potentials of a greener China, Arve Hansen is joined by some of Norway’s leading experts on Chinese environmental politics and practice, Gørild Heggelund, Yong Zhou and Bjorn Leif Brauteseth.

    Bjorn Leif Brauteseth is a PhD candidate at the Centre for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo.

    Gørild Heggelund is Research Professor at the Fridtjof Nansen Institute.

    Yong Zhou is a postdoctoral Fellow at the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, University of Oslo.

    Arve Hansen is a researcher at the Centre for Development and the Environment at the University of Oslo and one of the leaders of the Norwegian Network for Asian Studies.


    The Nordic Asia Podcast is a collaboration sharing expertise on Asia across the Nordic region, brought to you by the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS) based at the University of Copenhagen, along with our academic partners: the Centre for East Asian Studies at the University of Turku, and Asianettverket at the University of Oslo.
    We aim to produce timely, topical and well-edited discussions of new research and developments about Asia.
    About NIAS.
    Transcripts of the Nordic Asia Podcasts
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  • In the nineteenth century, one group of American merchants reported an odd request from the Vietnamese emperor. An envoy asked if the traders could help procure a commodity brought by a previous delegation: a precious good that turned out to be a bottle of Best Durham bottled mustard.
    That’s one small anecdote in Eric Tagliocozzo’s latest book, In Asian Waters: Oceanic Worlds from Yemen to Yokohama (Princeton University Press: 2022), which charts hundreds of years of history across Asia’s waters, from the South China Sea through the Persian Gulf. Eric weaves together historical research and on-the-ground fieldwork to show how Asia’s oceans can be a better way to understand the region than its land borders.
    In this interview, Eric and I talk about these Asian waters, stretching from the Middle East to East Asia, and the history and fieldwork that went into Eric’s book.
    Eric Tagliacozzo is the John Stambaugh Professor of History at Cornell University. His many books include Secret Trades, Porous Borders: Smuggling and States along a Southeast Asian Frontier, 1865–1915 (Yale University Press: 2009) and The Longest Journey: Southeast Asians and the Pilgrimage to Mecca (Oxford University Press: 2013).
    You can find more reviews, excerpts, interviews, and essays at The Asian Review of Books, including its review of In Asian Waters. Follow on Twitter at @BookReviewsAsia.
    Nicholas Gordon is an associate 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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  • A gripping, behind-the-scenes account of the personalities and contending forces in Tokyo during the volatile decade that led to World War II, as seen through the eyes of the American ambassador who attempted to stop the slide to war. 
    In 1932, Japan was in crisis. Naval officers had assassinated the prime minister and conspiracies flourished. The military had a stranglehold on the government. War with Russia loomed, and propaganda campaigns swept the country, urging schoolchildren to give money to procure planes and tanks. Into this maelstrom stepped Joseph C. Grew, America’s most experienced and talented diplomat. When Grew was appointed ambassador to Japan, not only was the country in turmoil, its relationship with America was rapidly deteriorating. For the next decade, Grew attempted to warn American leaders about the risks of Japan’s raging nationalism and rising militarism, while also trying to stabilize Tokyo’s increasingly erratic and volatile foreign policy. From domestic terrorism by Japanese extremists to the global rise of Hitler and the fateful attack on Pearl Harbor, the events that unfolded during Grew’s tenure proved to be pivotal for Japan, and for the world. His dispatches from the darkening heart of the Japanese empire would prove prescient—for his time, and for our own. Drawing on Grew’s diary of his time in Tokyo as well as U.S. embassy correspondence, diplomatic dispatches, and firsthand Japanese accounts, Our Man in Tokyo: An American Ambassador and the Countdown to Pearl Harbor (Mariner Books, 2022) brings to life a man who risked everything to avert another world war, the country where he staked it all—and the abyss that swallowed it.
    Caleb Zakarin is the Assistant Editor of the New Books Network (Twitter: @caleb_zakarin).
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  • Alongside rapid socio-economic development, China has achieved remarkable gains in gender equality on metrics like health, education, and labor force participation. Yet, the glass ceiling phenomenon and the underrepresentation of women in management has worsened. Sisi Sung's The Economics of Gender in China (Routledge, 2022) develops a cross-disciplinary paradigm, with economics at its core, to better understand gender in China and women in management in the Chinese business context. 
    In addition to its theoretical advancements, The Economics of Gender in China uses in-depth interviews with managers in China’s largest enterprises to form rich qualitative insights on women’s managerial experiences and career choices. The book also focuses on the enduring power of stereotypes that specify women’s roles in the family, organization, and society. The book's multi-disciplinary approach allows readers across disciplines with an interest in gender studies to find it useful as an introductory reference.
    Sisi Sung is a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Weber Centre for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies, University of Erfurt, Germany, and a research fellow at Tsinghua University, China. This interview was conducted by Kelsi Caywood, a PhD student in Sociology at the University of Michigan, who researches comparative gender inequality in the United States and East Asia.
    Kelsi Caywood is a PhD Student in Sociology at the University of Michigan
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  • Mao and Markets: The Communist Roots of Chinese Enterprise (Yale University Press, 2022) by Dr. Christopher Marquis & Dr. Kunyuan Qiao presents a thoroughly researched assessment of how China’s economic success continues to be shaped by the communist ideology of Chairman Mao
    It was long assumed that as China embraced open markets and private enterprise, its state-controlled economy would fall by the wayside, that free markets would inevitably lead to a more liberal society. Instead, China’s growth over the past four decades has positioned state capitalism as a durable foil to the orthodoxy of free markets, to the confusion of many in the West.
    Christopher Marquis and Kunyuan Qiao argue that China’s economic success is based on—not in spite of—the continuing influence of Communist leader Mao Zedong. They illustrate how Mao’s ideological principles, mass campaigns, and socialist institutions have enduringly influenced Chinese entrepreneurs’ business strategies and the management of their ventures. Grounded in case studies and quantitative analyses, this book shows that while private enterprise is the engine of China’s growth, Chinese companies see no contradictions between commercial drive and a dedication to Maoist ideology.
    This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused 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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  • In 1998, the Belitung, a ninth-century western Indian Ocean–style vessel, was discovered in Indonesian waters. Onboard was a full cargo load, likely intended for the Middle Eastern market, of over 60,000 Chinese Tang-dynasty ceramics, gold, and other precious objects. It is one of the most significant shipwreck discoveries of recent times, revealing the global scale of ancient commercial endeavors and the centrality of the ocean within the Silk Road story.
    But this shipwreck also has a modern tale to tell, of how nation-states appropriate the remnants of the past for their own purposes, and of the international debates about who owns—and is responsible for—shared heritage. The commercial salvage of objects from the Belitung, and their subsequent sale to Singapore, contravened the principles of the 2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage and prompted international condemnation. The resulting controversy continues to reverberate in academic and curatorial circles. Major museums refused to host international traveling exhibitions of the collection, and some archaeologists announced they would rather see the objects thrown back in the sea than ever go on display.
    Shipwrecks are anchored in the public imagination, their stories of treasure and tragedy told in museums, cinema, and song. At the same time, they are sites of scholarly inquiry, a means by which maritime archaeologists interrogate the past through its material remains. Every shipwreck is an accidental time capsule, replete with the sunken stories of those on board, of the personal and commercial objects that went down with the vessel, and of an unfinished journey. In this moving and thought-provoking reflection of underwater cultural heritage management, Natali Pearson reveals valuable new information about the Belitung salvage, obtained firsthand from the salvagers, and the intricacies in the many conflicts and relationships that developed. In tracing the Belitung’s lives and afterlives, Belitung: The Afterlives of a Shipwreck (U Hawaii Press, 2022) shifts our thinking about shipwrecks beyond popular tropes of romance, pirates, and treasure, and toward an understanding of how the relationships between sites, objects, and people shape the stories we tell of the past in the present.
    Like this interview? If so, you might also be interested in:

    Elisabeth Kramer, The Candidate's Dilemma: Anticorruptionism and Money Politics in Indonesian Election Campaigns


    Edward Aspinall and Ward Berenschot, Democracy for Sale: Elections, Clientelism, and the State in Indonesia


    Professor Michele Ford is the Director of the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre, a university-wide multidisciplinary center at the University of Sydney, Australia.
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  • As a broad category of identity, “transgender” has given life to a vibrant field of academic research since the 1990s. Yet the Western origins of the field have tended to limit its cross-cultural scope. Howard Chiang proposes a new paradigm for doing transgender history in which geopolitics assumes central importance. Defined as the antidote to transphobia, transtopia challenges a minoritarian view of transgender experience and makes room for the variability of transness on a historical continuum.
    Against the backdrop of the Sinophone Pacific, Chiang argues that the concept of transgender identity must be rethought beyond a purely Western frame. At the same time, he challenges China-centrism in the study of East Asian gender and sexual configurations. Chiang brings Sinophone studies to bear on trans theory to deconstruct the ways in which sexual normativity and Chinese imperialism have been produced through one another. Grounded in an eclectic range of sources—from the archives of sexology to press reports of intersexuality, films about castration, and records of social activism—this book reorients anti-transphobic inquiry at the crossroads of area studies, medical humanities, and queer theory. Timely and provocative, Transtopia in the Sinophone Pacific (Columbia UP, 2021) highlights the urgency of interdisciplinary knowledge in debates over the promise and future of human diversity.
    Howard Chiang proposes a new paradigm for doing transgender history in which geopolitics assumes central importance. Defined as the antidote to transphobia, transtopia challenges a minoritarian view of transgender experience and makes room for the variability of transness on a historical continuum.
    Please join Howard in conversation with Thomas Baudinette to learn more about this book's exciting theoretical interventions into the fields of trans studies, gender and sexuality studies, and Sinophone studies.
    Thomas Baudinette is Lecturer in International Studies at Macquarie University, Australia.
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  • Like many states emerging from oppressive political rule, Taiwan saw a cultural explosion in the late 1980s, when nearly four decades of martial law under the Chinese Nationalist Party ended. As members of a multicultural, multilingual society with a complex history of migration and colonization, Taiwanese people entered this moment of political transformation eager to tell their stories and grapple with their identities. In Renegade Rhymes: Rap Music, Narrative, and Knowledge in Taiwan (U Chicago Press, 2022), ethnomusicologist Meredith Schweig shows how rap music has become a powerful tool in the post-authoritarian period for both exploring and producing new knowledge about the ethnic, cultural, and political history of Taiwan.
    Schweig draws on extensive ethnographic fieldwork, taking readers to concert venues, music video sets, scenes of protest, and more to show how early MCs from marginalized ethnic groups infused rap with important aspects of their own local languages, music, and narrative traditions. Aiming their critiques at the educational system and a neoliberal economy, new generations of rappers have used the art form to nurture associational bonds and rehearse rituals of democratic citizenship, making a new kind of sense out of their complicated present.
    Meredith Schweig is assistant professor of ethnomusicology at Emory. Her research explores twentieth- and twenty-first-century popular musics of East Asia, with a particular emphasis on narrative, gender, and cultural politics in post-authoritarian Taiwan.
    Li-Ping Chen is Postdoctoral Scholar and Teaching Fellow in the East Asian Studies Center at the University of Southern California. Her research interests include literary translingualism, diaspora, and nativism in Sinophone, inter-Asian, and transpacific contexts.
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  • In When the Iron Bird Flies: China's Secret War in Tibet (Stanford University Press, 2022), Jianglin Li presents an untold story that reshapes our understanding of Chinese and Tibetan history.
    From 1956 to 1962, devastating military conflicts took place in China's southwestern and northwestern regions. Official records at the time scarcely made mention of the campaign, and in the years since only lukewarm acknowledgment of the violence has surfaced. When the Iron Bird Flies, by Jianglin Li, breaks this decades long silence to reveal for the first time a comprehensive and explosive picture of the six years that would prove definitive in modern Tibetan and Chinese history.
    The CCP referred to the campaign as "suppressing the Tibetan rebellion." It would lead to the 14th Dalai Lama's exile in India, as well as the Tibetan diaspora in 1959, though the battles lasted three additional years after these events. Featuring key figures in modern Chinese history, the battles waged in this period covered a vast geographical region. This book offers a portrait of chaos, deception, heroism, and massive loss. Beyond the significant death toll across the Tibetan regions, the war also destroyed most Tibetan monasteries in a concerted effort to eradicate local religion and scholarship.
    Despite being considered a military success, to this day, the operations in the agricultural regions remain unknown. As large numbers of Tibetans have self-immolated in recent years to protest Chinese occupation, Li shows that the largest number of cases occurred in the sites most heavily affected by this hidden war. She argues persuasively that the events described in this book will shed more light on our current moment, and will help us understand the unrelenting struggle of the Tibetan people for their freedom.
    This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused 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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  • The Japanese provincial city of Ichijōdani was destroyed in the civil wars of the late sixteenth century but never rebuilt. Archaeological excavations have since uncovered the most detailed late medieval urban site in the country. Drawing on analysis of specific excavated objects and decades of archaeological evidence to study daily life in Ichijōdani, Reading Medieval Ruins: Urban Life and Destruction in Sixteenth-Century Japan (Cambridge UP, 2022) illuminates the city's layout, the possessions and houses of its residents, its politics and experience of war, and religious and cultural networks. Morgan Pitelka demonstrates how provincial centers could be dynamic and vibrant nodes of industrial, cultural, economic, and political entrepreneurship and sophistication. In this study a new and vital understanding of late medieval society is revealed, one in which Ichijôdani played a central role in the vibrant age of Japan's sixteenth century.
    Morgan Pitelka is Bernard L. Herman Distinguished Professor of Japanese History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
    Samee Siddiqui is 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.
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  • Using previously unexplored and meticulously analyzed sources from China and to a lesser extent Japan, combined with those of Germany and the UK, Ghassan Moazzin provides a refreshing look at a number of levels: the workings of multinational banks, international networks of bankers, the interactions of Chinese and German empires with other state actors. 
    In Foreign Banks and Global Finance in Modern China: Banking on the Chinese Frontier, 1870-1919 (Cambridge UP, 2022), Moazzin introduces the novel concept of a "frontier bank" while building a case study around the Deutsch-Asiatische Bank (DAB). He aims to answer questions as to what is the role that individual actors such as the DAB play in early 20th century China?, What technological and business advancements build around multinational banks?, To what extent does our knowledge and understanding of capitalism is enabled by looking at local sources at end of the Chinese empire?
    Bernardo Batiz-Lazo is currently straddling between Newcastle and Mexico City. You can find him on twitter on issues related to business history of banking, fintech, payments and other musings. Not always in that order. @BatizLazo
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  • In the face of a Korean cultural world preoccupied with newness, literary output from the more measured and regulated Choson period (1392-1910) can seem difficult to engage with for readers both inside and outside the country. But as Ksenia Chizhova’s Kinship Novels of Early Modern Korea: Between Genealogical Time and the Domestic Everyday (Columbia UP, 2021) shows, a particular genre of late-Chsoson lineage novels reflect not only the staid norms of Confucian patriarchy and heredity, but also a more textured world of unruly emotions, gendered family disputes, calligraphic creativity and scandal simmering under the surface of mundane domestic life.
    Ed Pulford is an Anthropologist and Lecturer in Chinese Studies at the University of Manchester. His research focuses on friendships and histories between the Chinese, Korean and Russian worlds, and indigeneity in northeast Asia.
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  • This podcast features Brian A. Wong, discussing his new book, The Tao of Alibaba: Inside the Chinese Digital Giant That is Changing the World (Public Affairs, 2022). Brian joined Alibaba early, as its 52nd employee and first American employee, and worked for them for nearly twenty years. His book provides both insider insights and an analytical perspective on how Alibaba grew to become one of the most important companies in the global digital economy. This well-written and engaging book explains Alibaba’s unique organizational culture and how the Alibaba platform has helped spread economic opportunity beyond the elites in China’s big cities to the broader world of small and medium businesses throughout the country.
    Brian Wong’s Radii China is an independent media platform founded in 2017 dedicated to bridging the East and West by highlighting topics and issues that connect the world’s young, globally-minded citizens. Listeners interested in the development of the US-China relationship are encouraged to participate in the NCUSCR’s CHINA Town Hall, on November 17th, featuring a national webcast by former Ambassador Jon Huntsman Jr. Local partner events around the US, including one at the University of San Francisco, provide opportunities to discuss the topic further in person with other community members and local experts on China. In the interview, we also discuss Benjamin Ho’s book Why Trust Matters, featured on this show last year.
    Peter Lorentzen is the Chair of the Economics Department at the University of San Francisco, where he leads a new Master's program in Applied Economics focused on the digital economy. His research focus is the political economy of governance in China and he is a member of the National Committee on US-China Relations (NCUSCR) and USF’s new Center on Business Studies and Innovation in the Asia-Pacific.
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  • How social networks shaped the imperial Chinese state China was the world’s leading superpower for almost two millennia, falling behind only in the last two centuries and now rising to dominance again. What factors led to imperial China’s decline? 
    The Rise and Fall of Imperial China: The Social Origins of State Development (Princeton UP, 2022) offers a systematic look at the Chinese state from the seventh century through to the twentieth. Focusing on how short-lived emperors often ruled a strong state while long-lasting emperors governed a weak one, Yuhua Wang shows why lessons from China’s history can help us better understand state building. Wang argues that Chinese rulers faced a fundamental trade-off that he calls the sovereign’s dilemma: a coherent elite that could collectively strengthen the state could also overthrow the ruler. This dilemma emerged because strengthening state capacity and keeping rulers in power for longer required different social networks in which central elites were embedded. Wang examines how these social networks shaped the Chinese state, and vice versa, and he looks at how the ruler’s pursuit of power by fragmenting the elites became the final culprit for China’s fall. Drawing on more than a thousand years of Chinese history, The Rise and Fall of Imperial China highlights the role of elite social relations in influencing the trajectories of state development.
    Javier Mejia is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Political Science Department at Stanford University.
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