Category Archives: Asian Studies

The Changes that Led to Taiwan’s “Global Moment”: Ryan Dunch and Ashley Esarey on “Taiwan in Dynamic Transition”

The Covid-19 death toll in the United States exceeds 148,000; in Taiwan this statistic is seven. Taiwan has done a better job of fighting the pandemic than South Korea, Japan, or New Zealand. Taiwan adjusted the teaching protocol for schools but never closed them. Restaurants lost business but largely remained open. Taiwan’s economy has continued to grow, as other nations face the sinking prospect of a recession.

Taiwan is having its global moment, but few can tell the tale of how this island country arrived where it is. This is unfortunate but unsurprising: Taiwan is seldom mentioned in global media reports beyond articles about its disputed sovereignty, or histrionic outbursts from Chinese diplomats seeking to bar Taiwan from observer status in the World Health Organization and other international bodies.

During five decades of Japanese colonial rule (1895–1945), Taiwan began to experience what we call the “twin transformations” of nation building and democratization. Nation building commenced during Japanese rule, when Taiwanese were united by their common culture yet marginalized as second-class citizens in their homeland. Democratization, including early forays into local electoral politics under Japan, gradually introduced new rights and freedoms for Taiwanese to campaign in local and national elections.

Nation building and democratization became interrelated concerns as Taiwan emerged in the 1980s from four decades of one-party rule under martial law. The pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, founded in 1986 in defiance of a ban on opposition parties, would eventually become one of two main political parties that have alternated in power since the first direct presidential election in 1996. Nation building and democratization changed the way Taiwanese saw their society, leading to overwhelming support for democratic life and broad recognition that their nation was Taiwan, not China.

One important reason for Taiwan’s resilience during the current pandemic is that Taiwan’s twin transformations did not occur in isolation. They proceeded alongside a public hunger for broader reforms in a range of related areas, including women’s rights, freedom of speech and association, indigenous rights, environmental justice, animal rights, abolition of the death penalty, and gay marriage, to mention but a few examples.

All of these movements involved increasingly sophisticated activism amid growing trust in government as a willing and capable partner in reshaping the country’s course. This was in part due to the pivotal leadership of recently deceased President Lee Teng-hui, who pardoned political prisoners and worked to forge consensus over reforms that converted a political system designed to rule China in the 1940s into a democratic system suited to govern Taiwan.

Over time, Taiwanese society experienced what might be called a “normalization” of non-violent contestation that touched nearly every corner of society. Consider, for example, the 2014 occupation of parliament by students opposing a Taiwan-China free trade pact. The movement won widespread public support, prompted the tabling of the agreement, and elevated the fortunes of the Democratic Progressive Party, which had supported the demonstration. In Hong Kong, by comparison, pro-democracy demonstrators have been treated as criminals, traitors, and repressed by the police. Taiwanese “Sunflower activists” were cleared of criminal charges after occupying the national legislature for over three weeks. In her May 2020 inaugural address, President Tsai Ing-wen underscored the role of Taiwan’s “mobilization culture”: She noted that “people’s dissatisfaction provides motivation for reform” and that Taiwan’s ability to overcome its many challenges wasn’t because of “one or two heroes” but because of “nameless heroes” who together “turned the great wheel of history.”

Ironically, such views of Taiwanese society seem entirely foreign in China. Politicians and military figures in Beijing ignore Tsai Ing-wen’s soaring approval ratings and belittle her political record: they have accused her government of “unilaterally” destabilizing relations by failing to express commitment to unification; urged Taiwanese to refrain from commenting on national security legislation for Hong Kong; and warned that Taiwan independence is “a road of death.”

Our book Taiwan in Dynamic Transition: Nation Building and Democratization traces how this remarkable country emerged as a resilient democratic nation, despite the absence of widespread agreement on sovereignty or democratic norms after World War II and within a political system designed to govern a different place (China). The contributors to the volume, many of them Taiwan-based academics, consider several dimensions of Taiwan’s experience of nation building and democratization, including constitutional reform, grassroots elections and social movements, and defense spending and national security.

Speaking to her compatriots at her inauguration in 2020, President Tsai argued that Taiwan’s story “pertains to everyone and requires everyone.” Taiwan in Dynamic Transition helps readers to understand the background to Taiwan’s extraordinary success during the COVID-19 pandemic. But the future security of Taiwan is uncertain, not due to internal failings but the threat of a Chinese invasion. During these uncertain and dangerous times, perhaps Tsai’s words are also true for all who respect freedom and human dignity and wish to see them flourish?


Ryan Dunch is professor of history at the University of Alberta. Ashley Esarey is assistant professor of political science at the University of Alberta. Their book Taiwan in Dynamic Transition: Nation Building and Democratization is available now.

What keeps us calm during the chaos: Nozomi Naoi on “Yumeji Modern” and finding the “moon-viewing” moment

In such uncertain times, it is important to remember the things that keep us human, keep us who we are, and allow us to persevere.

My book, Yumeji Modern: Designing the Everyday in Twentieth-Century Japan, has a chapter on the artistic reception and visualization of the Great Kantō Earthquake of 1923 (Chapter 5). As tempting as it is to focus on the disaster and suffering, I want to introduce one newspaper illustration and accompanying text that focuses on a moment of serenity, beauty, and humanity amidst the chaos and wreckage.

The modern Japanese artist and main subject of the book, Takehisa Yumeji (1884-1934), wrote and illustrated a newspaper series called Tōkyō sainan gashin (“Sketches of the Tokyo Disaster”), which was published daily in the newspaper Miyako shinbun. Comprising both texts and images, Yumeji’s series records his reactions to the catastrophe and its aftermath and participate in a collective making of memory in modern Japanese history. His visual and literary observations showcase feelings of empathy and shock, as well as disappointment due to the inaction on the part the Japanese government in helping its citizens. Tokyo Disaster began its serialized, daily release merely thirteen days after the earthquake struck, running from September 14 to October 4, and the series presented some of the earliest responses to reach the public.

Out of the twenty-one issues in the series, one stood out: the twelfth issue from September 25, Chūshū no meigetsu (Moon-viewing; fig. 5.09, p. 161). It is a tranquil night scene with a mother and her two children, seen from behind, sitting in a field and looking up at the moon. It is a poignant scene and all the more so with Yumeji’s sensitive portrayal of the woman, as his interest in the female image made him popular with his iconic “Yumeji-style beauty.” The romanticized natural setting and the figures communicate a beautiful moment even within a series that dwells on the theme of destruction.

Moon-viewing

The text recounts how people had to spend many nights in the open due to a lack of shelter and then describes the mother:

I saw a woman pulling pampas grass in the field at Aoyama. I passed by casually, then realized that tonight was “moon-viewing” (chūshū no meigetsu). Some do not forget the offerings to the full moon even in such destitute times when people are living in shacks. Tonight there must be people gazing at the bright moon from the eaves of the galvanized iron roofs, grateful for their survival . . . (pp. 160-161)

Moon-viewing festivities celebrated the beauty of the autumnal moon and prayed for an abundant harvest. The appreciation of mother nature, which had just struck against humanity is nonetheless breathtaking. By homing in on the attempts of one woman to preserve the tradition of moon-viewing for her children despite the tragedy, the image and text also reflect Yumeji’s focus on the experience of the individual in the face of a cataclysmic natural disaster.

The desire for people to recreate and preserve normalcy even during a time of trauma touched Yumeji.

Serialization also allowed Yumeji’s reactions to the earthquake to reach a broad audience every day for three weeks, and the series became a platform that expanded and built upon itself, enabling a kind of memoristic journey that the artist and his audience experienced together.

The series finds its source in Yumeji’s artistic beginnings as an illustrator for socialist bulletins during the time of the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) and demonstrates on a more personal level his concern for the place of the common people, of the voiceless within a climate of mounting government oppression and militarism. In addition, his keen observation and focus on the figure and its interiority was germane to his development in the portrayal of the female figure, one that evolved from his prolific production of bijinga (beautiful women) imagery, mostly for publications targeting a female audience.

Tokyo Disaster is an important series in the examination of the artist Yumeji and his role in the early twentieth-century mediascape. But it also holds a more personal meaning.

While doing research for this book in Japan, the Tōhoku Earthquake struck northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, followed by countless aftershocks and a massive tsunami. It was in the aftermath of this event and during Japan’s collective efforts to restore, reconcile, and narrate this disaster that led me to Yumeji’s responses to the Great Kantō Earthquake, the greatest natural disaster during his lifetime. This experience permitted me to approach this series with a better understanding of and insight into Yumeji’s heartfelt reactions to the 1923 earthquake, and I decided to devote my last chapter of the book on this series and include the entire series translation in the appendix. I completed the translations and analysis of this series with the 2011 disaster in mind, which even years later affects the many people who are still unable to return to their homes.

In our current circumstance in 2020, I now feel that the many reactions and critiques seen in this series are ever more relevant, and I hope that in our times today each and every one of us is able to find our own “moon-viewing” moment.


Nozomi Naoi is assistant professor of humanities (art history) at Yale-NUS College and author of Yumeji Modern.

 

 

 

 

 

Hyung-A Kim on “Korean Skilled Workers”

The Korean case of national development is an outstanding one. South Korea rose from one of the poorest countries in the world to the twelfth largest economy in terms of gross domestic product with innovative technology (innotech) development, which ranks globally in the top three countries. Although not entirely without its flaws and idiosyncrasies, Korea has indeed succeeded in a dual industrial and democratic revolution together with innotech development within just six decades since the mid-1960s, surviving several traumatic global financial crises, including the Asian financial crises in 1997 and 2008.

Some of Korea’s large family-owned conglomerates, or chaebŏls, in particular, have become the world’s preeminent manufacturing brands. Samsung Electronics’ smartphones, Hyundai Motors’ automobiles, Hyundai Heavy Industries’ shipbuilding, LG’s electronic home appliances, and various Korean telecommunication brands, not to mention K-pop and cosmetics, all boast global reputations and associated market power. Chaebŏls thus quite rightly feature in developmental literature on Korea.

Unlike the prominent chaebŏls, Korea’s highly disciplined and technologically savvy skilled workers are little known, other than for their union militancy that has branded them a “labor aristocracy” and an object of social criticism for their collective “selfishness.” Affiliated with the radical Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, king of unions in the country, the Korean skilled workers’ unions have in fact become one of the most powerful forces. They, in the eyes of the Korean public, pursue only power and vested-interests in the name of “progress” in Korea’s highly polarized society today.

Herein lies a new narrative that I tell in Korean Skilled Workers: Toward a Labor Aristocracy, a story that recounts not only their critical contribution to South Korea’s rapid development but also their controversial roles in Korea’s democratic working class movement and its current economic status in the world.

My book is the first comprehensive study of Korea’s first generation of skilled workers in the heavy and chemical industries (HCI) sector, tracing the intriguing transformation of the skilled workers’ collective image and character, which have dramatically changed over more than four decades since the early 1970s. This story involves their socio-political trajectory of dramatic transformation, tracking how they initially became patriotic and obedient “industrial warriors” of the Korean state-led HCI program since the 1970s, and then changed into self-proclaimed “Goliat warriors” during South Korea’s democratic transition from 1987 to the early 1990s.

During this period, the first generation of Korean skilled workers in the HCI sector represented the democratic labor union movement and the solidarity movement of the Korean working class in their partnership with radical university students and intellectuals. The book then shows how they finally became a “labor aristocracy” by consolidating their collective status in Korea’s dual labor market as regular workers at large HCI firms. Since the 2000s, they have become a distinct class of a labor aristocracy in Korean society.

In this book I have challenged hitherto prevalent approaches to the study of the Korean case of development by analyzing the lived experience of Korea’s first generation of skilled workers, speaking directly to several dozens of skilled workers and many prominent leaders of the various skilled workers’ labor movements and unions, and corporate CEOs, among others, including academics, journalists, and labor experts. I analyzed newly declassified sources from Korea’s presidential and national archives, among other internal documents, as well as data on Korean workers’ views on the role of unions taken from surveys conducted in 1978, 1987, and 2005. I also conducted in-depth interviews during 2014 and 2015 to obtain up-to-date information on the individual situations and perspectives of HCI workers. This book alerts us to the need to rethink the conventional understanding of the East Asian model of development espoused by elite development theory (EDT) traditions.

This book is a must-read in coming to understand not only how necessary skilled workers are to enabling a nation’s development, but also how they as a newly emerged “labor aristocracy” need to move beyond collective selfishness, especially in this global era of labor market polarization between precarious workers and highly-paid regular workers in many developing and advanced countries throughout the world.


Hyung-A Kim is associate professor of Korean history and politics at the Australian National University. She is author of Korea’s Development under Park Chung Hee: Rapid Industrialization, 1961–1979. Her new book Korean Skilled Workers: Toward a Labor Aristocracy is available now.

Spring Dawn at Su Causeway: Xiaolin Duan on “The Rise of West Lake”

I never expected that 2020 would be shadowed by COVID-19 in both my home country and the one I am currently living in. Like many of my friends and colleagues, I have been spending more time online, joining Zoom meetings, sending messages, and reading every piece of information about this unfolding crisis.

Two news articles grabbed my attention as they mentioned the cultural site I wrote about in the book The Rise of West Lake: A Cultural Landmark in the Song Dynasty. On March 13, when the situation had somewhat stabilized in China, China Daily published an article “Hangzhou’s West Lake an idyllic spring destination.” Photos in this article show not only the willow trees that start sprouting but also sightseers strolling along the lake, all maintaining social distance measures and wearing masks (which is considered a necessary form of protection).

March has always been one of the best seasons for an outing to West Lake and long been extolled by poets and rendered by painters with emotionally charged brushes. The scenery is not much different from past years—not even from almost a thousand years ago. The willow and peach trees were planted along the causeway by the local governor Su Shi after an eleventh-century dredging project, and the Leifeng Pagoda in one photo has guarded the south end of the lake since the tenth century (the current one was rebuilt in 2002). Such scenery, however, becomes particularly precious this year. Hangzhou, like other cities in China, experienced a “stay-at-home” quarantine for the entire month of February, and major scenic sites were all closed to the public. It is not surprising that this article uses West Lake in the spring to symbolically convey the message that this is a long-awaited stabilized time; the masks in the image reveal just how much people miss the fresh air after four-weeks of self-quarantine. The lake indicates that it is now safe to go outdoors to embrace nature and represents the hope of going back to normal life. The emotion conveyed by springtime also enhances such hope. Literature and images about the lake love to portray the theme “Spring Dawn at Su Causeway,” one of the Ten Views that formed in the thirteenth century. At this moment, there is no better term than “spring dawn” to describe what people have desired during their long struggle in the dark.

Another article is about a bus that passed along the street next to West Lake that was painted with the three colors of Italy’s national flag, offering moral support for Hangzhou’s sister city, Verona. The bus exterior features both the painting of the Colosseum and the image of “Three Stupas and the Reflecting Moon,” another one of the Ten Views. The three pagodas in the middle of the lake were built by Su Shi to mark the boundary allowed for diked paddies. The practical function of these pagodas later disappeared while the scenic beauty they added to the lake became a popular theme for artistic creation. This scene also appears on the back of the one-yuan bill. Using this scenic site side-by-side with the Colosseum offers reassurance that the lake and its cultural sites are still considered as symbols for the city and Chinese culture.

Hangzhou and West Lake have long served as icons of Chinese landscape appreciation, literary and artistic expression, and tourism. During this difficult time, when people are living in fear, uncertainly, and isolation, the lake had become especially attractive and idealized. The fact that the lake welcomes visitors eases feelings of insecurity, and the iconic landscape symbolizes rapprochement with people in another country. The natural beauty of West Lake, as it has done many times throughout history, again has functioned as something comforting. Over time, writings on West Lake constructed it as a prominent landscape, consisting of stable elements such as the willow trees that always turn green in the spring and pagodas that silently yet firmly stand on the lakeshore. The “eternal” cultural tradition it conveys allows the lake to function as an anchor for identity, through which visitors and commentators have expressed their affection and a sense of hope for the country during such a scary and unknown time.

West Lake has dried up several times in history, and at times its beauty was shadowed by war and disasters. However, it could always resume its prosperity thanks to the endeavor, courage, and emotional attachment of people. Just as the lake has revived, I hope we can soon return to a time when people—in China, in the United States, and all other places—can enjoy and celebrate the natural scenery together with families and friends without worrying about social distancing.


Xiaolin Duan is assistant professor of history at North Carolina State University. The Rise of West Lake: A Cultural Landmark in the Song Dynasty is available now.

Navigating India’s Complex Legal Landscape: Jeffrey A. Redding on “A Secular Need”

Just three months ago, the novel coronavirus was a distant issue for many in India. Instead, independent India’s perennial problem of communal violence was front and center. Indeed, in late February, members of India’s ruling political party, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), again engaged in communally-charged politicking, bringing their taunts and threats to the streets of India’s capital. Unsurprisingly, Muslims were the targets of these actors’ brazen bigotry, and Muslim neighborhoods and citizens were marked for death and destruction over the course of the next several days; at last count, over 50 people ended up dying in this Delhi mayhem at the beginning of 2020.

Scenes like these provide an unfortunate backdrop for my new book, A Secular Need: Islamic Law and State Governance in Contemporary India, concerning the complex and multi-sited operations of a network of non-state Muslim “courts” that has functioned in India for almost 100 years now. I put the term “courts” in scare quotes here because—as with so much concerning Muslims and Islamic legal life in contemporary India—there is a politics to this terminology. And, indeed, this is not just a book about a longstanding network of non-state Islamic legal institutions and the upstart secular state with which they interact—and sometimes supersede—but also a book about the politics of this fraught and often terrifying legal landscape. Ultimately, as I argue in my book, one has to understand the anti-Muslim discussions occurring nearly daily in India’s formal legal institutions to be on a continuum with the anti-Muslim mayhem recently witnessed on the streets of Delhi, as well as the devastating state-sponsored Muslim poverty that has been a longstanding feature of secular life in independent India.

More than an indictment, however, my book offers a sobering diagnosis of the anti-Muslim malady that consumes contemporary India. Indeed, what is often overlooked about anti-Muslim sentiment in India is that this feeling—and there is so much feeling here—is not simply about “otherizing” Muslims, but is also about “absorbing” Muslims, too. Indeed, Hindu nationalist-cum-secular thinking has, for some time now, seen Muslims as both outsiders to the Indian project, but also part of the larger “super-tolerant” Hindu fold. For example, the recent targeting of the uniquely Muslim-majority state of Kashmir by the central BJP government did not result in the expulsion of Kashmir but, rather, its radical absorption and transmutation from being a relatively autonomous State to being a centrally-administered Union territory. Here, and in many other instances too, India’s secular state has not just targeted Muslims for adverse treatment, but also drawn them in—albeit in peculiar and radical ways.

As I explain in my book, then, Indian secularism is not just a “hate project,” but is also a “love project,” and we need to bring complex tools of analysis to bear on this kind of affect-laden governance. Moreover, we have to account for how the secular state’s hate and love of—or, in other words, efforts to radically exclude and radically include—Muslims manage to simultaneously manifest. My book suggests that “secular need” is what underlies the coexistence of these discordant emotions and that, in effect, Indian secularism is in a complicated relationship of hate, love, and need with Indian Islam. Put another way, that it is the secular state’s dependence in India on non-state Islamic actors that generates this same state’s hate and love of Islam.

Across my book’s several chapters, I use a number of case studies to demonstrate the different kinds of dependencies that Indian secularism has on non-state Islamic legal actors. These various dependencies are both ideological and material in nature. To quickly preview them, they include Indian secularism’s need for non-state Islamic law and legal institutions because of a fear that this secularism may otherwise not be genuine in its tolerance. Second, Indian secularism needs non-state Islamic legal providers because of its ambivalent attachment to feminism. Put succinctly, for reasons of both internal and external legitimacy, Indian secularism needs women (and perhaps especially Muslim women) to have robust divorce options, yet Indian state courts are themselves unwilling to provide these divorce options. The “Muslim court” network focused on in my book can and does perform divorces for Muslim women. Third, Indian secularism needs non-state Islamic legal actors and institutions to intervene with disputing parties where the Indian state cannot because of the state’s alien secular qualities and, simultaneously, its fundamental anxieties about the state’s popular (il)legitimacy. Finally, the secular state needs Islamic legal actors and institutions to provide legal services because of how the Indian state is already consumed by overwhelming caseloads; these non-state legal actors help disperse dispute resolution across a broader range of capable legal actors.

This is both an exciting and perilous time to be writing on Indian secularism, and my hope is that A Secular Need can help both sustain and enrich important debates across scholars, social actors, and borders about secularism and its multiple effects, affects, and antecedents.


Jeffrey A. Redding is senior research fellow at Melbourne Law School and a New Generation Network scholar at the University of Melbourne’s Australia India Institute. A Secular Need: Islamic Law and State Governance in Contemporary India is available now.

Vernacular Formations of Sexuality in India

In October 2018 I spoke at a meeting organized by Hasratein (Desire), a queer collective in Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. This meeting was soon after the landmark Supreme Court judgment in India on September 6, 2018 that read down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), allowing for same-sex sexual acts between consenting adults in private. Pushing against the euphoria of the moment, my observations explored the non-linear trajectories of sexuality politics that cannot be plotted within the paradigms of rights, recognition, and individual autonomy. Drawing on the key interventions of my book Unruly Figures, I shared my thoughts on how regional idioms of activism and vernacular cultural practices, from different parts of India, disrupt a singular narrative of sexual progress and liberation.

Unruly Figures: Queerness, Sex Work and the Politics of Sexuality in Kerala, was conceptualized, researched, and written over a period of about ten years. The primary research for this book was done in 2007–2010 when the global AIDS prevention and awareness machinery played a crucial role in making sexual categories such as the Commercial Sex Worker (CSW) and Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) highly visible. Sexuality politics in different regions of India has undergone considerable shifts as I was completing this book. Identity categories, legal frameworks, the public health machinery, global and national patterns of funding, the status of sexuality as a field of study, the circuits of print and visual media—there are many sites through which we can track these changes.

While the struggle for reading down Section 377 is perceived as an overarching framework for this period—this book demonstrates that the rights bearing sexual subject cannot be the fulcrum to anchor the long, ruptured history of the politics of sexuality in India. So it seems apt that this book reaches its readers in the aftermath of the Supreme Court judgment hailed by international media with headlines such as: “India Backs Freedom – Others should Follow” (The Guardian, September 9, 2018), and “India’s Riotous Triumph of Equality” (New York Times, September 7, 2018). My explorations in this book function as a timely reminder about the dangers of celebrating a teleology of sexual progress with set moments of origin and arrival. It makes us acutely aware of the unresolvable contradictions that nestle in the same slice of history.

How do we address the fact that the Supreme Court judgment on Section 377 comes at a time when India has witnessed systemic violence against religious minorities and Dalits, massive unemployment and dismantling of social welfare structures, as well as increasing surveillance in public spaces? “Safe Spaces, Unsafe Times: Support Systems in a Suspended World,” was the title of a workshop held in Delhi on November 2018 that attempted to move beyond the mainstream narrative around the repeal of Section 377 and address the question of larger support systems for gay, lesbian, and transgender persons. The tentative and restless journeys in this book, its reflection on political subjectivity and dispossession, hopes to speak to these dilemmas of our present.

Public interventions such as the dual autobiographical project by Nalini Jameela and the report on lesbian suicides by the activist group, Sahayatrika (Co-traveler), are struggles staged in embattled settings. The forms of self-fashioning we encounter in Unruly Figures are marked by reiteration and failure. Yet the idioms to etch these everyday politics are drawn from the layered imaginations available within “small places.” Cultural practices such as watching soft-porn films and reading pulp fiction play a role in unsettling a disciplined ordering of gender and domesticity in Kerala.

The political is recast in this book for it is routed through unexpected sites, such as the wanderings of two schoolgirls on the run in a 1980s popular Malayalam film. The cover image of this book gives new life to an image from this film that is central to the book. There is much to learn and unlearn from struggles staged in unhomely places—places that bind us and yet they are too close to let go. This doubleness of marginalized subjects and their relation to their immediate surroundings has to be taken into account as we search for an elsewhere. The potential for transformation is kept alive by drawing on the unruly movements generated in the spaces that we inhabit. Thus to engage with the global trajectories of sexuality politics we need to pay heed to vernacular imaginations of sexuality.


Navaneetha Mokkil is assistant professor at the Centre for Women’s Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University. She is the coeditor of Thinking Women: A Feminist Reader.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Re-envisioning Shanghai’s Architectural History

The roots of Improvised City trace back to my first visit to Shanghai in August 1997. I was a college undergraduate majoring in architectural studies, and I had arrived in China for the first time six months earlier to study in Xi’an. I spent June and July in Hong Kong as an intern for an international architectural office before taking the train to Beijing and then Shanghai, from where I would eventually fly home. None of my experiences in China up to that point in time prepared me for the place. Shanghai overwhelmed me—its scale, its pace, the collage-like quality of the urban fabric. It made a lasting impression that would stay with me for years, when as a graduate student I began to delve more deeply into the architectural and urban history of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century China.

I was traveling with a friend at the time, and we stayed at the Astor House Hotel—now a four-star hotel, but then a shabby youth hostel known for its convenient location at the confluence of the Huangpu River and Suzhou Creek. We were given an airless dormitory room tucked away down a dimly lit hallway with wide, creaky floorboards. There was a specific, spectral quality to the building’s spaces I’ve never quite forgotten. Although I did not know the extent of its history at the time, it was clear that the many political, economic, social, and cultural shifts in China’s past over the preceding century had become inscribed upon the architecture in consequential and identifiable ways.

In the mornings, my friend and I woke up early and walked over the Waibaidu (Garden) Bridge toward Nanjing Road. It was a hot, humid August in Shanghai; we encountered elderly couples out for some early morning air and exercise in their pajamas. I also recall watching, mesmerized, as a man sat out on the street gutting live eels using a narrow wooden plank through which protruded a strategically placed, upturned nail. From Nanjing Road we’d walk around People’s Square, and out into any number of adjacent streets, finding our way from the former International Settlement down through the French Concession into the former walled Chinese city. We spent entire days walking tirelessly around the city in search of vestiges of its historical architecture and urbanity.

 

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Years later, my memories of that trip helped to inspire my research on Shanghai’s architectural and urban past. I have lived in Shanghai and made many trips to the city since then, but my initial experience there remains formative to my curiosity concerning its architectural past. Throughout my investigation of Shanghai’s architectural history, I have sought to learn how architectural objects and urban spaces in the city served to demarcate control and project authority amid the various power struggles for municipal administration that took place between foreign and Chinese officials over the course of the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries. Shanghai’s uniqueness was shaped, in part, by the legal machinations that took place around its re-definition as an international treaty port and whether foreign residents would be subject to Qing laws—questions that rapidly materialized in the design and construction of architecture and urban space throughout the city. For example, the book’s title, Improvised City, was inspired by a letter written by a group of foreign residents to the British envoy and minister plenipotentiary to the Qing court in 1863. In the letter, the group declared that Shanghai had become “an improvised city” in which routine municipal architectural activity had taken on particular meaning due to the city’s abrupt redefinition as an international treaty port, the odd spatial qualities that emerged as a result, and the unruly cosmopolitanism generated by these changes.

The idea that architecture could be used to transform or somehow “improvise” a city into being was fascinating to me, and it inspired me to rethink Shanghai’s architectural history. We often define and study architecture based on certain aesthetic or stylistic qualities; in Shanghai, for example, the Bund is celebrated for its visual display of different kinds of architectural expression. Yet architecture offers a tool with a range of distinctive material, spatial, and scalar qualities that reveal lessons about how we live and, by extension, who we are. Architectural artifacts prompt us to interpret and confront a city’s physical present and its past through spaces that shape daily practices and beliefs.

One can still find traces of these dynamics and the complex history that resulted in built objects and urban spaces throughout the city despite the significant physical redevelopment that has occurred there in the past 40 years. It’s also a history that is revealed through unbuilt or long-forgotten work captured in drawings, photographs, and documents found in archives all over the world, including Shanghai, Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Washington, D.C., among other places. Discovering and re-constructing these fragments into a book has been a long journey, but one I am excited to be able to share.


Cole Roskam is associate professor of architectural history at the University of Hong Kong. To learn more about what Shanghai’s architectural history reveals about the relationship between built environments and extraterritoriality, buy his new book Improvised City: Architecture and Governance in Shanghai, 1843-1937!

Gandhi's Search for the Perfect Diet by Nico Slate

What We Can Learn from Gandhi’s Diet

I set out to write about Gandhi’s diet because I find Gandhi himself endlessly fascinating and because I love food. To be more precise, I love thinking about food. I like eating it too, of course, but a lot of the joy I get from food comes from thinking about how to cook it and what nutritional benefit it might bring to me and my family. Gandhi was similar; his passion for food was often driven by his interest in nutrition. But it wasn’t nutrition alone that inspired his many experiments in the kitchen or the hundreds of letters, notes, and articles he penned on dietary topics. Gandhi’s obsession with diet was as philosophical and spiritual as it was bodily. His relationship to food transcended the common divide between body and spirit. That’s why his diet fascinated me from the moment I began the research for my new book Gandhi’s Search for the Perfect Diet: Eating with the World in Mind. As I say in the book, “Understanding Gandhi’s relationship to food is to understand the man and his life, and to connect two of history’s perennial questions: how to live and what to eat.”

I originally saw myself writing something of a diet book in which I would praise Gandhi’s culinary practices—vegetarianism, avoiding sweets, eating whole grains, fasting, etc.—and discuss how to apply them in our world. But the more I delved into the history of what Gandhi ate and why, the more complex his diet became, and the more I came to see the darker side of some of his dietary obsessions. The book became about Gandhi’s search for the perfect diet—about his struggles and his questions, as well the answers he found over years of experimentation. I wanted to learn from Gandhi about food and nutrition—and I did—but I learned just as much from the social, political, and religious dimensions of his dietary journey.

I learned that food helped inspire Gandhi to fight for justice. His first sustained political activism was on behalf of vegetarianism. As a student in London and a young lawyer in South Africa, Gandhi’s dietary commitments connected him to communities of radical activists who questioned many facets of society. Those who rejected meat often also rejected sexism, racism, and war. Gandhi’s experiences championing vegetarianism prepared him to attack inequality, white supremacy, and other forms of injustice.

Gandhi’s diet was rooted in traditional Indian cuisine—particularly the vegetarian foods of his home state of Gujarat. But many of his dietary interests and practices were shaped by food reformers from outside of India. He learned from the African American scientist, George Washington Carver, famous for his experiments with peanuts. He discussed vitamins with scientists in the US, the UK, and elsewhere. At a time of resurgent xenophobia and chauvinistic nationalism, we can learn from the tolerance and openness with which Gandhi brought dietary ideas across the borders of nations and cultures.

When I started this book, I hoped to clear up some basic questions I had as a chef and a father. I wasn’t disappointed. My research shaped how I think about salt, sugar, dairy, whole grains, and fasting. Thanks to this book, there are new foods in my diet and new ways of preparing old favorites (the recipes at the back of the book have been well-tested). Nevertheless, more important than any specific lesson about cooking or nutrition, what I took from writing this book is the importance of continually reconciling our dietary practices with our deepest values. Gandhi wouldn’t want us to imitate him, but to approach our own diets with the same curiosity, openness, and integrity he brought to his. I hope readers learn about Gandhi, about food, and about their own path toward “eating with the world in mind.”


Nico Slate is professor of history at Carnegie Mellon University. He is the author of Colored Cosmopolitanism: The Shared Struggle for Freedom in the United States and India and editor of Black Power beyond Borders: The Global Dimensions of the Black Power Movement.

To learn more about Gandhi’s Search for the Perfect Diet, read an excerpt in The Atlantic or buy your copy of the book today!

March 2018 News, Reviews, and Events

News

The University of Washington Press has an outstanding opening for an Editorial Assistant (job number 153892). Please help us get the word out to excellent candidates who are interested in getting into acquisitions!

We were thrilled to announce that starting March 1, 2018, the University of Washington Press joins the UW Libraries and reports to the vice provost of digital initiatives and dean of University Libraries, Lizabeth (Betsy) Wilson. The Press and the Libraries currently collaborate on a number of joint initiatives, and the Press has also published a number of books in association with the Libraries. Read the full press release on the UW Press Blog and more at Shelf Awareness Pro.

Monthly Giveaways

Reviews and Interviews

The Spokesman-Review publishes an opinion piece by The Spokane River editor Paul Lindholdt.

The Indian Express features an article by High-Tech Housewives author Amy Bhatt about how US immigration policy is impacting Indian families.

The Seattle Times mentions Seattle Walks by David B. Williams in a Lit Life column about the Seattle Public Library’s Peak Picks program.

Light reviews Nasty Women Poets edited by Grace Bauer and Julie Kane (dist. Lost Horse Press): “This anthology is the burn, the salve on the burn, and the funny story you make up years later to explain the scar.”—Barbara Egel

Kotaku Australia includes Black Women in Sequence by Deborah Elizabeth Whaley in a round-up of comics-related Black History Month reads (2/15/18). The author also gets a mention in a New York Times opinion piece (no book mention; 2/16/18), which is syndicated and translated at Gazeta do Povo.

UW Today / UW News highlights news that UW professor emeritus and UW Press author Quintard Taylor has been awarded the lifetime achievement award from the Washington State Historical Society. The Forging of a Black Community gets a mention.

Redmond Reporter features Looking for Betty MacDonald by Paula Becker.

The Forbes Science / #WhoaScience stream features the second edition of The Orphan Tsunami of 1700 by Brian F. Atwater, Satoko Musumi-Rokkaku, Kenji Satake, Yoshinobu Tsuji, Kazue Ueda, and David K. Yamaguchi (published with US Geological Survey, Department of the Interior): “A rather beautifully illustrated account.”—Robin Andrews

Above & Beyond publishes an article about ptarmigans by Michael Engelhard. Ice Bear gets a byline mention.

University of Montana News features Douglas H. MacDonald and Before Yellowstone.

The Fil-Am Magazine and Inquirer.net US review A Time to Rise edited by Rene Ciria Cruz, Cindy Domingo, and Bruce Occena: “For anyone looking to engage in the issues they believe in or find inspiration amid today’s discouraging headlines, the lessons shared by former KDP members in A Time to Rise are deeply impactful. . . . Detailed and informative, the memoirs in A Time to Rise hash out the struggles that made the difficult road to justice possible. . . . More than a list of achievements, A Time to Rise is personal.”—Renee Macalino Rutledge

Association of King County Historical Organization (AKCHO) Heritage Advisor / News features Frederick L. Brown and his 2017 AKCHO Virginia Marie Folkins Award-winning book The City Is More Than Human.

The Art Newspaper reviews No Idols by Thomas Crow (dist. for Power Publications):”The greatest value of No Idols is in its widest implication: that even if we try, we cannot rid ourselves of the past. Art, stripped of its religious foundations, lives on in a secular world, but ghostly remnants will always remain.”—Pac Pobric

International Examiner mentions Monica Sone’s Nisei Daughter and Yoshiko Uchida’s Desert Exile in a review of Jeanette Arakawa’s The Little Exile.

Live Science mentions Ancient Ink edited by Lars Krutak and Aaron Deter-Wolf in an article about newly published research on prehistoric tattooing. The article interviews lead researcher and book contributor Renée Friedman, and her team’s original article is published in the March 2018 issue of Journal of Archaeological Science.

Ethnic Seattle features Monica Sone and Nisei Daughter in a Women’s History Month round-up of women of color writers from Seattle.

Diplomacy’s Public Dimension reviews Mediating Islam by Janet Steele: “Steele brings the strengths of an accomplished journalism and media scholar and twenty years of field research in Southeast Asia to a book that explores important questions. . . . Not least among many contributions in this important study is the way the author, a self-described Western, secular, female scholar, has engaged in sustained, productive cross-cultural dialogue with journalists in majority Muslim countries, many of whom are not liberal or secular.”—Bruce Gregory

Panorama Television (PCTV) “Now Where Were We?” interviews Lorraine McConaghy about Free Boy. Stream the segment on YouTube.

Food Politics blogger Marion Nestle features The Organic Profit by Andrew N. Case.

The New York Times Lens section’s latest Race Stories piece by Maurice Berger features Al Smith’s life, work, and Seattle on the Spot (dist. for Museum of History and Industry).

Cool Green Science (the conservation science blog of The Nature Conservancy) reviews Razor Clams by David Berger: “An entertaining account, and guide, to the real fun of digging your own food in the beach. . . . Berger’s book is an excellent testimony that gathering is still an enriching, fun and tasty pursuit. Long may it be so.”—Matthew L. Miller

Science interviews Ted Pietsch, coauthor of the forthcoming Fishes of the Salish Sea, about first-ever footage of living anglerfish. More via UW News.

Santa Fe Council on International Relations interviews Janet Steele about Mediating Islam.

The Seattle Times Outdoors section features two (out of six) spring hikes from Seattle Walks by David B. Williams.

Humboldt State Now interviews Cutcha Risling Baldy and mentions We Are Dancing for You in a news release about the 32nd Annual California Indian Conference to be held at Humboldt State University on April 5 and April 6. She is chair of the conference organizing committee.

Science to the People rebroadcasts their interview with Dawn Day Biehler about Pests in the City.

New Books Network interviews Frederick L. Brown about The City Is More Than Human (posted on the NBn American Studies, American West, Environmental Studies, History, and Native American Studies channels).

The Booklist Reader features Carlos Bulosan’s America Is in the Heart and recommends additional contemporary Filipino-American fiction: “Carlos Bulosan’s America Is in the Heart is a cornerstone of classic Asian-American literature.”—Terry Hong

New Books

A Family History of Illness: Memory as Medicine
By Brett L. Walker

While in the ICU with a near-fatal case of pneumonia, Brett Walker was asked, “Do you have a family history of illness?”—a standard and deceptively simple question that for Walker, a professional historian, took on additional meaning and spurred him to investigate his family’s medical past. In this deeply personal narrative, he constructs a history of his body to understand his diagnosis with a serious immunological disorder, weaving together his dying grandfather’s sneaking a cigarette in a shed on the family’s Montana farm, blood fractionation experiments in Europe during World War II, and nineteenth-century cholera outbreaks that ravaged small American towns as his ancestors were making their way west.


Firebrand Feminism: The Radical Lives of Ti-Grace Atkinson, Kathie Sarachild, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, and Dana Densmore
By Breanne Fahs

Breanne Fahs brings together ten years of dialogue with four founders of the radical feminist movement and provides a timely and historically rich account of these audacious women and the lasting impact of their words and work.


Before Yellowstone: Native American Archaeology in the National Park
By Douglas H. MacDonald

Douglas MacDonald tells the long history of human presence in Yellowstone National Park as revealed by archaeological research into nearly 2,000 sites — many of which he helped survey and excavate. He describes and explains the significance of archaeological areas and helps readers understand the archaeological methods used and the limits of archaeological knowledge.


Olympic National Park: A Natural History, Fourth Edition
By Tim McNulty

In this updated classic guide to the park, Tim McNulty invites us into the natural and human history of thesenearly million acres and offers a detailed look at Elwha River restoration after the dam removal, inspiring descriptions of endangered species recovery, and practical advice on how to make the most of your visit.


The Spokane River
Edited by Paul Lindholdt

From Lake Coeur d’Alene to its confluence with the Columbia, the Spokane River travels 111 miles of varied and often spectacular terrain — rural, urban, in places wild. The twenty-eight contributors to this collection — including activists, storytellers, and scientists — profile this living river through personal reflection, history, science, and poetry.


Uplake: Restless Essays of Coming and Going
By Ana Maria Spagna

These engaging, reflective essays muse on rootedness, yearning, commitment, ambition, and wonder, and remind us to love what we have while encouraging us to still imagine what we want.


Cultivating Nature: The Conservation of a Valencian Working Landscape
By Sarah R. Hamilton
Foreword by Paul S. Sutter

Shifting between local struggles and global debates, this fascinating environmental history reveals how Franco’s dictatorship, Spain’s integration with Europe, and the crisis in European agriculture have shaped the Albufera Natural Park, its users, and its inhabitants.


Bringing Whales Ashore: Oceans and the Environment of Early Modern Japan
By Jakobina K. Arch
Foreword by Paul S. Sutter

In this vivid and nuanced study of how the Japanese people brought whales ashore during the Tokugawa period, Arch makes important contributions to both environmental and Japanese history by connecting Japanese whaling to marine environmental history in the Pacific, including the devastating impact of American whaling in the nineteenth century.


Transforming Monkey: Adaptation and Representation of a Chinese Epic
By Hongmei Sun

In this far-ranging study Hongmei Sun discusses the thousand-year evolution of Sun Wukong (aka Monkey or the Monkey King) in imperial China and multimedia adaptations in Republican, Maoist, and post-socialist China and the United States.


Medicine and Memory in Tibet: Amchi Physicians in an Age of Reform
By Theresia Hofer

Medicine and Memory in Tibet examines medical revivalism on the geographic and sociopolitical margins both of China and of Tibet’s medical establishment in Lhasa, exploring the work of medical practitioners, or amchi, and of Medical Houses in the west-central region of Tsang.


Making New Nepal: From Student Activism to Mainstream Politics
By Amanda Thérèse Snellinger

Based on extensive ethnographic research between 2003 and 2015, Making New Nepal provides a snapshot of an activist generation’s political coming-of-age during a decade of civil war and ongoing democratic street protests.


Mediating Islam: Cosmopolitan Journalisms in Muslim Southeast Asia
By Janet Steele

Broadening an overly narrow definition of Islamic journalism, Janet Steele examines day-to-day reporting practices of Muslim professionals, from conservative scripturalists to pluralist cosmopolitans, at five exemplary news organizations in Malaysia and Indonesia.


Buddhism Illuminated: Manuscript Art from South-East Asia
By San San May and Jana Igunma
Published with British Library

Buddhism Illuminated includes over one hundred examples of Buddhist art from the British Library’s rich collection, relating each manuscript to Theravada tradition and beliefs, and introducing the historical, artistic, and religious contexts of their production. It is the first book in English to showcase the beauty and variety of Buddhist manuscript art and reproduces many works that have never before been photographed.


Captive Light: The Life and Photography of Ella E. McBride
By Margaret E. Bullock and David F. Martin
Distributed for Tacoma Art Museum
Exhibition on view through July 8, 2018

Internationally acclaimed fine-art photographer Ella McBride (1862–1965) played an important role in the Northwest’s photography community and was a key figure in the national and international pictorialist photography movements. Despite her many accomplishments, which include managing the photography studio of Edward S. Curtis for many years and being an early member of the Seattle Camera Club, McBride is little known today. Captive Light reconsiders her career and the larger pictorialist movement in the Northwest. Captive Light is part of the Tacoma Art Museum’s Northwest Perspective Series on significant Northwest artists.


Julie Speidel: The Center Holds
By Matthew Kangas
Foreword by Rock Hushka
Distributed for Speidel Studio LLC

In this richly-illustrated monograph, the art of Julie Speidel is seen as one of myth and materiality, encompassing the creation more than four decades of numerous objects that inhabit a variety of locales and fulfill a wide variety of purposes. She has created sculpture in many different media and a variety of scale, as well as an impressive body of prints.

Events

MARCH

March 30, A Time to Rise edited by Rene Ciria Cruz, Cindy Domingo, and Bruce Occena, Bayanihan Community Center with Arkipelago Books, San Francisco, CA

March 30 at noon, Janet Steele, Mediating Islam, New York Southeast Asia Network and NYU Wagner’s Office of International Programs, New York, NY

APRIL

April 2 at 7 p.m., Shelley Drake Hawks, The Art of Resistance, University of Massachusetts, Amherst (UMass Amherst), History of Art & Architecture, Amherst, MA

April 2 at 7 p.m., Ingrid Walker, High, King County Library System – Des Moines Library, Des Moines, WA

April 5 at 7 p.m., Ana Maria Spagna, Uplake, Whitman College, Reid Ballroom, Walla Walla, WA

April 6 at 6 p.m., Bruce Guenther, Michael C. Spafford (dist. for Lucia | Marquand), Jacob Lawrence Gallery, Seattle, WA

April 7 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., Quin’Nita Cobbins, Paul de Barros, Howard Giske, Jacqueline E. A. Lawson, and Al “Butch” Smith, Jr., Seattle on the Spot (dist. for Museum of History and Industry), On the Spot Gallery Talk, Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI), Seattle, WA

April 7 at 10 a.m., Stevan Harrell, Ways of Being Ethnic in Southwest China, Saturday University: Textiles of Southwest China, Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas, University of Washington Jackson School of International Studies and Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle Art Museum, Plestcheeff Auditorium, Seattle, WA

April 8 at 3 p.m., Ana Maria Spagna, Uplake, Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, WA

April 9 at 4:30 p.m., Sylvanna Falcón, Power Interrupted, Wellesley College, 2018 Domna Stanton Lecture in Women’s and Gender Studies, Wellesley, MA

April 11 at 12:30 p.m., Paula Becker, Looking for Betty MacDonald, Humanities Washington Speakers Bureau, Garfield Senior Center, Pomeroy, WA

April 11 at noon, Janet Steele, Mediating Islam, George Washington University, Sigur Center for Asian Studies, Washington, DC

April 11 at 7 p.m., Nasty Women Poets edited by Grace Bauer and Julie Kane (dist. Lost Horse Press), GA Nasty Women Poets, Oglethorpe University Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA

April 13 at 7:30 p.m., Kathleen Alcalá, The Deepest Roots, with Donna Miscolta, Town Hall Seattle and Phinney Neighborhood Association, In Residence—History Is an Act of the Imagination, Taproot Theatre, Seattle, WA

April 14 at 10:30 a.m., Jennifer Ott, Waterway (dist. for HistoryLink), Redmond Historical Society, Old Redmond Schoolhouse, Redmond, WA ($5 suggested donation for Non-Members)

April 14, Eileen A. Bjorkman, The Propeller under the Bed, Oregon Aviation Historical Society, Cottage Grove, OR

April 17 at noon, Jakobina K. Arch, Bringing Whales Ashore, Whitman College, Whitman College Bookstore at Reid Campus Center, Young Ballroom, Walla Walla, WA

April 18 at 3 p.m., Shelley Drake Hawks, The Art of Resistance, Suffolk University, Boston, MA

April 19 at 3:30 p.m., Brett L. Walker, A Family History of Illness, University of Oregon, Department of History, Eugene, OR

April 21 at 3:30 p.m., Douglas H. MacDonald, Before Yellowstone, Historical Museum at Fort Missoula, Missoula, MT

April 23 at 5 p.m., Shelley Drake Hawks, The Art of Resistance, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA

April 26 at 3:30 p.m., Dorothy Ko, The Social Life of Inkstones, University of Washington, Seattle Campus, The East Asia Center and China Studies Program at the Jackson School of International Studies with the Seattle Art Museum, Thomson Hall,  Seattle, WA

April 26 at 7:30 p.m., Dorothy Ko, The Social Life of Inkstones, Asia Talks, Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas, Seattle Art Museum, Nordstrom Lecture Hall, Seattle, WA (Free with RSVP; Doors at 7 p.m., Talk begins at 7:30 p.m.)

April 27 at 11:15 a.m., Marisol Berríos-Miranda, Shannon Dudley, and Michelle Habell-Pallán, American Sabor, MoPOP, Pop Conference 2018, Roundtable: Making American Sabor, Seattle, WA

April 27 at 5 p.m., David Berger, Razor Clams, Humanities Washington Speakers Bureau, Timberland Regional Library – Raymond Library, Raymond, WA

April 27 – September 2, Adman edited by Nicholas Chambers (dist. Art Gallery of New South Wales), Exhibition, The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA

April 27-28, Ana Maria Spagna, Uplake, Get Lit! Festival, Eastern Washington University, Spokane, WA (Tickets on sale March 27 at 10 a.m. PST)

April 28 at 10:30 a.m., David Berger, Razor Clams, Humanities Washington Speakers Bureau, Timberland Regional Library – South Bend Library, South Bend, WA

April 28 at 2 p.m., David Berger, Razor Clams, Humanities Washington Speakers Bureau, Timberland Regional Library – Naselle Library, Naselle, WA

Save

Save

New in Asian Studies for the Association for Asian Studies 2018 Annual Conference

From March 22-25, we will be attending the 2018 Association for Asian Studies (AAS) annual conference in Washington, DC.

Executive editor Lorri Hagman and advancement and grants manager Beth Fuget will be representing the Press at the conference. Come see us in the exhibit hall at booths 413 and 415, join us and NUS Press for a special book signing of Mediating Islam by Janet Steele, and follow along with the meeting on social media at #AAS2018.

We are thrilled to celebrate new and recent books across the range of our Asian Studies lists including volumes in our Global South Asia series, the Critical Dialogues in Southeast Asian Studies series, books in the Mellon-funded collaborative Modern Language Initiative (MLI), and recent book prize winners:

Zuo Tradition / Zuozhuan: Commentary on the “Spring and Autumn Annals” translated by Stephen Durrant, Wai-Yee Li, and David Schaberg is winner of the 2018 Patrick D. Hanan Book Prize for Translation (China and Inner Asia) from the Association for Asian Studies. Read an excerpt from the volumes on Scribd.

Book signing with Janet Steele:

Saturday, March 24 at 5:15 p.m.

Mediating Islam: Cosmopolitan Journalisms in Muslim Southeast Asia
By Janet Steele
Critical Dialogues in Southeast Asian Studies

Broadening an overly narrow definition of Islamic journalism, Janet Steele examines day-to-day reporting practices of Muslim professionals, from conservative scripturalists to pluralist cosmopolitans, at five exemplary news organizations in Malaysia and Indonesia.

New and Forthcoming in Asian Studies

The Art of Resistance: Painting by Candlelight in Mao’s China
Shelley Drake Hawks
Art History Publication Initiative Books

The Art of Resistance surveys the lives of seven painters during China’s Cultural Revolution (1966– 1976), a time when they were considered counter- revolutionary and were forbidden to paint. Drawing on interviews with the artists and their families and on materials collected during her visits to China, Shelley Drake Hawks examines their painting styles, political outlooks, and life experiences.

Shanghai Sacred: The Religious Landscape of a Global City
By Benoit Vermander, Liz Hingley, and Liang Zhang
Forthcoming April 2018

Shanghai Sacred demonstrates how religions are lived, constructed, and thus inscribed into the social imaginary of the metropolis. Evocative photographs by Liz Hingley enrich and interact with the narrative, making the book an innovative contribution to religious visual ethnography.


Sexuality in China: Histories of Power and Pleasure
Edited by Howard Chiang
Forthcoming June 2018

Ranging from imperial times through the post-Mao era, chapters examine an array of topics, including polygamy, crimes of passion, homosexuality, and sex work. Collectively, they reconsider Western categorizations and explore Chinese understandings of sexuality and erotic orientation.


Living Sharia: Law and Practice in Malaysia
By Timothy P. Daniels
Critical Dialogues in Southeast Asian Studies

This book traces the contested implementation of Islamic family and criminal laws and sharia economics to provide cultural frameworks for understanding sharia among Muslims and non-Muslims.


Down with Traitors: Justice and Nationalism in Wartime China
By Yun Xia

Down with Traitors reveals how the hanjian were punished in both legal and extralegal ways and how the anti-hanjian campaigns captured the national crisis, political struggle, roaring nationalism, and social tension of China’s eventful decades from the 1930s through the 1950s.


Medicine and Memory in Tibet: Amchi Physicians in an Age of Reform
By Theresia Hofer
Studies on Ethnic Groups in China

Medicine and Memory in Tibet examines medical revivalism on the geographic and sociopolitical margins both of China and of Tibet’s medical establishment in Lhasa, exploring the work of medical practitioners, or amchi, and of Medical Houses in the west-central region of Tsang.


Slapping the Table in Amazement: A Ming Dynasty Story Collection
By Ling Mengchu
Translated by Shuhui Yang and Yunqin Yang
Introduction by Robert E. Hegel

Slapping the Table in Amazement is the unabridged English translation of the famous story collection Pai’an jingqi by Ling Mengchu (1580-1644), originally published in 1628. It includes translations of verse and prologue stories as well as marginal and interlinear comments.


Bringing Whales Ashore: Oceans and the Environment of Early Modern Japan
By Jakobina K. Arch
Foreword by Paul S. Sutter
Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books

Drawing on a wide range of sources, from whaling ledgers to recipe books and gravestones for fetal whales, Jakobina Arch traces how the images of whales and byproducts of commercial whaling were woven into the lives of people throughout Japan.


Buddhas and Ancestors: Religion and Wealth in Fourteenth-Century Korea
By Juhn Y. Ahn
Korean Studies of the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies
Forthcoming June 2018

Two issues central to the transition from the Kory to the Choson dynasty in fourteenth-century Korea were social differences in ruling elites and the decline of Buddhism, which had been the state religion. In this revisionist history, Juhn Ahn challenges the long-accepted Confucian critique that Buddhism had become so powerful and corrupt that the state had to suppress it.

New and Forthcoming from Modern Language Initiative Books

Transforming Monkey: Adaptation and Representation of a Chinese Epic
By Hongmei Sun

At the intersection of Chinese studies, Asian American studies, film studies, and translation and adaptation studies, Transforming Monkey provides a renewed understanding of the Monkey King character as a rebel and trickster, and demonstrates his impact on the Chinese self-conception of national identity as he travels through time and across borders.


Forming the Early Chinese Court: Rituals, Spaces, Roles
By Luke Habberstad

Forming the Early Chinese Court builds on new directions in comparative studies of royal courts in the ancient world to present a pioneering study of early Chinese court culture. Rejecting divides between literary, political, and administrative texts, Luke Habberstad examines sources from the Qin, Western Han, and Xin periods (221 BCE-23 CE) for insights into court society and ritual, rank, the development of the bureaucracy, and the role of the emperor.


Many Faces of Mulian: The Precious Scrolls of Late Imperial China
By Rostislav Berezkin

In exploring the evolution of the Mulian story, Rostislav Berezkin illuminates changes in the literary and religious characteristics of the baojuan (precious scrolls) genre as a type of performance literature that had its foundations in multiple literary traditions.

New and Forthcoming from the Global South Asia series

High-Tech Housewives: Indian IT Workers, Gendered Labor, and Transmigration
By Amy Bhatt
Forthcoming May 2018

In this revealing ethnography, Amy Bhatt shines a spotlight on Indian IT migrants and their struggles to navigate career paths, citizenship, and belonging as they move between South Asia and the United States.


Making New Nepal: From Student Activists to Mainstream Politics
By Amanda Thérèse Snellinger

Based on extensive ethnographic research between 2003 and 2015, Making New Nepal provides a snapshot of an activist generation’s political coming-of-age during a decade of civil war and ongoing democratic street protests.


Mobilizing Krishna’s World: The Writings of Prince Savant Singh of Kishangarh
By Heidi R. M. Pauwels

Through an examination of Savant Singh’s life and works, Heidi Pauwels explores the circulation of ideas and culture in the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries in north India, revealing how Singh mobilized soldiers but also used myths, songs, and stories about saints in order to cope with his personal and political crisis.


The Rebirth of Bodh Gaya: Buddhism and the Making of a World Heritage Site
By David Geary

This study of Buddhism’s most famous pilgrimage site examines the modern revival of Buddhism in India, the colonial and postcolonial dynamics surrounding archaeological heritage and sacred space, and the role of tourism and urban development in India.


Banaras Reconstructed: Architecture and Sacred Space in a Hindu Holy City
By Madhuri Desai

Desai examines the confluences, as well as the tensions, that have shaped this complex and remarkable city. In so doing, she raises issues central to historical as well as contemporary Indian identity and delves into larger questions about religious urban environments in South Asia.



Displaying Time: The Many Temporalities of the Festival of India

By Rebecca M. Brown

Using extensive archival research and interviews with artists, curators, diplomats, and visitors, Brown analyzes a selection of museum shows that were part of the Festival of India to unfurl new exhibitionary modes: the time of transformation, of interruption, of potential and the future, as well as the contemporary and the now.

Now Available in Paperback