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.

Jill La Pointe on the Art—and Preservation—of Lushootseed Storytelling

Adapted from Jill La Pointe’s foreword to Haboo: Native American Stories from Puget Sound by Vi Hilbert, Jill La Pointe, Thom Hess

When Haboo was first published 35 years ago, the dramatic art of traditional storytelling in many of our Native American communities was fading as younger generations became more adapted to mainstream culture and values. Recognizing the impact of cultural change taking place in their communities, my grandmother—like so many other elders—sought to gather and preserve as much traditional information and wisdom as possible. Every elder who contributed to this magnificent collection of cultural stories did so in hopes that someday future generations will once again appreciate the ancient art of storytelling. 

Although much has changed over the years, there remains one unfortunate constant. Despite all the technological advancements since the first publication of Haboo, our communities continue to lose many of their beloved elders. As each year passes, we are left with fewer and fewer among us who can still recite the ancient stories and even fewer who can retell the stories in our traditional Lushootseed language.

Confronting this reality remains as critical to the survival of Coast Salish culture and language today as it was 35 years ago. The wisdom and teachings found in Haboo continue to offer a pedagogical resource that highlights a way of being in the world that we have strayed from, and they remain as relevant today as they have been for generations. 

Growing up, my brother Jay and I heard our grandmother Vi taqʷšəblu Hilbert tell many of the stories included here over and over again. Staying true to who she was, she never explained the meaning or revealed the overall lessons hidden in the stories, but rather she instructed us to think about each story and ask ourselves, “What is the story trying to tell me?”

It wasn’t until years later that I gained a deep appreciation for the traditional art of storytelling, as I heard Grandma repeat to audiences everywhere, young and old, that “Lushootseed never insults the intelligence of a listener by explaining the story,” allowing them the same dignity her elders allowed her, to find their own interpretation and understanding.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT Literary Hub.


Jill tsisqʷux̌ʷał La Pointe is director of Lushootseed Research and granddaughter of Vi taqʷšəblu Hilbert.

While Making Other Plans: Ellen Waterston on “Walking the High Desert”

 

In 2012 the Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) pieced together a 750-mile trail that starts at the Oregon Badlands Wilderness outside of Bend and continues to the southeastern Oregon canyonlands that flank the Owyhee River. I moved from New England to the high desert of central Oregon four decades ago. Though I now live in Bend, my love of this hardscrabble outback still informs me every day. So it’s no surprise that this new trail spoke to me, lured me back into the desert. No longer actively ranching, I decided I’d walk sections of the trail to bring attention to the ONDA’s Oregon Desert Trail especially as it underscored public and private land use issues. I would make a point of evenly and fairly presenting the conflicting points of view about repurposing open areas of public land. I prided myself that in so many ways I already knew the players: ranchers; Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, and Fish and Wildlife employees; schoolteachers in rural schoolhouses; merchants in remote outposts; American Indians on reservations in the high desert; law enforcement officials who, some years back, were kind enough to wave me on, despite my excessive speed, as I made my way along desolate Highway 20 back to the ranch with a station wagon full of fussy infants and sacks of groceries.

In 2015, I began researching and writing this A to Z examination of land use issues in the high desert. But the January 2016 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters by an armed group of far-right extremists changed all that. Life and writing projects are what happen while you are busy making other plans. The occupation was an invitation I couldn’t refuse to broaden the scope of the book, to examine how each section of the trail, in its own unique way, underscored issues that weren’t only regional but also national, if not international, seen through the optic of the high desert—issues such as water resources, climate change, protection of environmental habitat, recreational demands on open spaces, the rural-urban divide, economic inequities, and racism in the rural West.

Writing this book has led me to love the desert even more and to deeply apprehend how fragile it is socially and environmentally. With so many new people moving into this high and dry region, just as I did before them—there needs to be a commensurate commitment to care for it. I hope this book inspires people to engage in important conversations not only about the high desert but also about how these broader and seemingly unresolvable issues manifest where each of us live. As I encountered those issues, I confess I didn’t see any chance for resolution, but by the end of the book… well, I won’t be a spoiler.

 


Ellen Waterston is author of Where the Crooked Desert Rises: A High Desert Home, a memoir, four poetry collections, and four poetry collections including a verse novel. She is the founder and president of the Waterston Desert Writing Prize and the founder of the Writing Ranch in Bend, Oregon.

Announcing the 2020-2021 Mellon University Press Diversity Fellows

The University of Washington Press, the MIT Press, Cornell University Press, the Ohio State University Press, University of Chicago Press, Northwestern University Press, and the Association of University Presses (AUPresses) today announce the recipients of the 2020-2021 Mellon University Press Diversity Fellowships.

These fellowships are generously funded by a four-year, $1,205,000 grant awarded to the University of Washington Press from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the continued development and expansion of the pipeline program designed to diversify academic publishing by offering apprenticeships in acquisitions departments. This second grant builds on the success of the initial 2016 grant from the Mellon Foundation, which funded the first cross-press initiative of its kind in the United States to address the marked lack of diversity in the academic publishing industry.

Please join us in welcoming the 2020-2021 Mellon University Press Diversity Fellows:

Jason Alley joins the University of Washington Press after having served as a visiting assistant professor at Beloit College. Originally from greater Los Angeles, he received his BA in film from the University of California, Berkeley and his MA and PhD in anthropology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He brings several years of nonprofit work experience to the table, including stints at Project Inform, a HIV treatment education and advocacy organization, and the Pacific Film Archive, a cinematheque and research center based at the University of California, Berkeley. A fervent believer in good writing across a range of nonfiction genres, Jason’s scholarly interests include anthropology, American studies, visual culture, and feminist and queer studies.

Erika Barrios joins the MIT Press from Northwestern University, where she just completed her BA in English literature. At Northwestern, she worked as a research assistant to digitize the journal Mandorla: Nueva Escritura de las Américas for Open Door Archive. She graduates as an alumna of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program, having written her honors thesis on the use of language technology in contemporary US Latinx poetry. Her research interests include twentieth- and twenty-first-century poetry and poetics, digital humanities, hemispheric American literature, and literary responses to neoliberalism.

Rebecca Brutus joins the University of Chicago Press after graduating in May from Ithaca College, where she majored in writing and minored in theater studies and women’s and gender studies. At Ithaca she served as senior nonfiction editor of the literary magazine Stillwater and as a tutor in the Writing Center. She worked for the Ithaca College Library and as a writing and social media intern at Buffalo Street Books. She was also involved with ZAP, a student-run volunteer program that organized panels to educate the campus community about diversity-related issues. Her enthusiasm for university press publishing was cemented during an internship in the marketing department at Cornell University Press.

Joe Fitzgibbon joins the Ohio State University Press with a professional background in academic copyediting and proofreading of both books and journals. He received his BA from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and MA from the College of William & Mary, where he wrote a thesis on the federalization of US immigration policy in the antebellum period. He currently resides in Madison, Wisconsin, and spends his free time reading and managing the Wisconsin Sting sled hockey team.

Allegra Martschenko joins Cornell University Press after working as a sales intern at Princeton University Press. She has also worked in the world of children’s book publishing, managing social media for a small press. She is a recent graduate of Princeton University’s School of Architecture, with minors in urban studies and creative writing. Her interests include speculative fiction (especially the work of Laini Taylor), video games, and painting.

Iván Pérez-Zayas joins Northwestern University Press after working as a college professor and journalist. He received his BA in public communications and MA in English literature from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras. He has published book and film reviews and co-edited a book of short stories and poems by young Puerto Rican writers, including some of his own work. In 2018, Editorial Disonante published his first poetry chapbook, Para restarse. He is currently writing a dissertation on twentieth- and twenty-first-century Latin American comics, especially those that depict the everyday lives of their characters and explore issues of race, gender and sexuality, to complete his PhD in Spanish and Portuguese at Northwestern University.

 

Walking Nearby History: Judy Bentley on “Walking Washington’s History”

Staying home and walking more in your neighborhood? There’s more underfoot than you may realize. Cities are rich in layers of history, some visible, some not.

Heading out my side door, I find a clothesline pole still standing between my house and the condo building next door, trailing vines instead of drying sheets. A half-mile away is a monument marking the landing of the Denny-Low-Terry party at Alki in 1851. Those are the obvious finds.

Less obvious is the median sloping downhill in front of our house, separating two narrow one-way streets. When we moved here 16 years ago, the hillside was overgrown with weeds. One lone plum tree drooped with fruit each fall. In the early 1900s children walked to the neighborhood school along a one-lane dirt road paralleling a meadow. “We frequently preferred the trail along Chilberg Avenue,” recalled one resident, “to enjoy some of the most beautiful wildflowers in the open fields and leading up into ‘the woods,’ the hillside forest.” Pleasant memories for troubled times.

Troubled times are nothing new. As I researched Walking Washington’s History: Ten Cities, I often found conflict. I had read about the Everett Massacre of 1914 when striking millworkers in the city were supported by Wobblies who arrived on boats from Seattle. The Wobblies were met with gunfire. The dock where the clash occurred is long gone, but as I walked the waterfront in 2017, I found wreaths made out of dried cedar hung on a wire fence, each commemorating one of the 12 men killed.

WA History 1

At the Chinese Reconciliation Park in Tacoma, the haunting figures of Chinese workers expelled from the city in 1885 are painted on stone, an attempt to remember and acknowledge.

WA History 2

There were moments of pleasure, too, when I found the cool bubbling spring behind the Bigelow House in Olympia, which supplied drinking water to the early residents. Vancouver has not just one but three statues of women: a pioneer mother, a Native American woman, and a World War II welder.

WA History 3

Where history is less visible, interpretive art recalls the work of ordinary people. A sculpted fruit-picker’s bag sits on a square in Yakima.

WA History 4

To find history underfoot, look closely as you walk, and ask why. Then visit the local historical society when it opens again; you may find an oral history or memories that recall experiences like a walk to school.

Today, the meadow along that old dirt road has been reclaimed by community volunteers with plantings of more fruit trees, native shrubs, and wildflowers. Some of the forest above remains, on a hillside too steep for development. Walkers passing the wildflowers on this relatively quiet street are in good historic company.


Judy Bentley is the author of fourteen nonfiction books for young adults and three books published by the University of Washington Press, including Walking Washington’s History: Ten Cities, Hiking Washington’s History, and Free Boy: A True Story of Slave and Master. She taught composition, literature, and Pacific Northwest history for more than 20 years at South Seattle College.

Association of University Presses Releases Equity and Anti-Racism Statement

Below is a statement released on June 2, 2020 from the Association of University Presses.

The Association of University Presses (AUPresses) holds among our core values diversity and inclusion. As an organization and as a community, we mourn the lost lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others, stolen by the systemic racism at work in the US. We condemn police brutality and other forms of socially sanctioned racist violence. And we stand in solidarity with all who continue to seek justice, to imagine equity, and to enact a different world.

Many of our member presses put the values of diversity and inclusion into the world in a tangible way, playing major roles over the last few decades in amplifying the voices of scholars who originated African American Studies, Native Studies, and LGBTQ studies, among other groundbreaking fields. These works are readily available to provide insights and are frequently cited as resources in response to police brutality or white supremacist violence.

But we have only to look to evidence such as that found in the Lee & Low Diversity Baseline Survey, indicating in 2019 that our ranks are 76% white, to know that holding a value is not sufficient. Every day our professional community—just as our personal communities—must work towards equity, towards inclusion, and towards justice.

Today we issue the AUPresses Statement on Equity and Anti-Racism, declaring that upholding these core values requires “introspection, honesty, and reform of our current practices, the interests they serve, and the people and perspectives they exclude.” Drafted by our Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, taken through a rigorous review process by our Equity, Justice, and Inclusion (EJI) Committee, and approved by the AUPresses Board of Directors, this statement points a way forward:

“Only with systems of accountability in place to protect and lift up those who have been historically harmed and silenced by our collective inaction will we succeed in dismantling the white supremacist structure upon which so many of our presses and parent institutions were built. How to support these efforts sustainably across the industry must be considered a priority for the Association, its members, and its executive board as well as the main focus of the Equity, Justice, and Inclusion Committee.”

We acknowledge with gratitude the volunteer efforts of our EJI Committee, Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, and Gender, Equity, and Cultures of Respect Task Force in calling us to this work. Download a PDF of the Statement on Equity and Anti-Racism.

Our inaugural EJI Community Read is another piece of this witness and work, and many member presses are organizing their staffs to read these essential selections: White Fragility by Robin D’Angelo (Beacon, 2018) and Invisible People by Alex Tizon (Temple, 2019). Our community’s full list of nominations for the Community Read project provides a wider lens through which to understand current events across the US as people protest and seek to right the wrongs of systematic racism and the long injustices of white supremacy.

As a community of publishers we are called to discuss and absorb what these authors have to say and to act on our colleagues’ specific recommendations—such as explicitly anti-racist training for managers, amelioration of the no- and low-wage entry points to our industry, and new recruitment and promotion strategies—with a goal of making equity a lived experience.

George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Michael Brown. The devastating list goes on and on. Yes, say their names. Yes, do the reading. But we must also live and work as though we have listened.


Here is a link to the statement, originally published on the Association of University Presses website. Here also is a link to the AUPresses Statement on Equity and Anti-Racism.

Take a Virtual Tour of Seattle’s Built Environment With These UWP Books

We were sorry to miss seeing everyone here in Seattle for this year’s annual meeting of the Society of Architectural Historians. As a follow up, we would like to share some of the press’s recent publications that explore and celebrate Seattle’s rich architectural heritage and planned urban landscapes.

All the titles featured below, as well as all UW Press books on our website, are currently on sale at a discount of 40% off including free shipping through June 30th. For more information and to order, visit our website and enter WASH20 at checkout.

9780295741284Seattle Walks: Discovering History and Nature in the City
by David B. Williams

“I could go on and on—every stop in the book seems to have an embedded mystery. . . . Chances are good that your neighborhood is in this book. Find and explore your own.”     Seattle Times

“Williams encourages readers to slow down and look at the city through a pedestrian’s eyes. It’s a worthy cause. . . . Williams actually gets you out onto the streets, where the history happened, and that makes everything seem closer and more relevant. . . . Seattle Walks is all about that feeling, of seeing familiar streets through new eyes. All it takes is a good guide, a slowing-down of your pace, and a willingness to stop and look up every once in a while.”Seattle Review of Books

9780295741345

Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over Place
Second Edition
by Coll Thrush

“Native Seattle offers a dynamic new model for writing urban and Indian histories together. Thrush successfully challenges narratives of progress in U.S. history that imply that modernity is predicated on the decline of Native people. . . . By demonstrating how white place-stories involving disappearing Indians have shaped our accounts, he successfully works to restore both the deeper history of urban places as well as the influence of Native people in the subsequent development of cities.”Journal of American History

“Coll Thrush’s book has importance far beyond the history of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest . . . revolutionary in his approach to the broad nature of Seattle’s indigenous history. . . . This book will endure.”Pacific Northwest Quarterly

9780295744087

Art in Seattle’s Public Spaces: From SoDo to South Lake Union
by James M. Rupp

“The perfect guide for those wanting to discover the evolution of the city’s public realm through the ideas and works of artists and collectors.”―Cath Brunner, Director, Public Art 4Culture

“Through the story of Seattle’s embrace of iconic artists and their space-changing work Jim Rupp illuminates how public art transforms public spaces.”―Karen J. Hanan, Executive Director, Washington State Arts Commission

9780295745619 (1)Sculpture on a Grand Scale: Jack Christiansen’s Thin Shell Modernism
by Tyler Sprague

“Jack Christiansen pioneered new possibilities in structural engineering and architecture for decades, yet his work is largely unknown due in part to his intentional lack of self-promotion. Tyler Sprague’s definitive book follows the arc of Christiansen’s extraordinary career and gleans lessons for designers, builders, and historians alike.”―John Ochsendorf, professor of engineering and architecture, MIT

“When Christiansen built the largest freestanding concrete dome on earth, he established himself as the structural artist of the Pacific Northwest. This book is a must-read for aficionados interested in the intersection of engineering and the arts. To contemporary shell designers I say, “Read this book and learn from this giant!””―Sigrid M. Adriaenssens, Co-author of Shell Structures for Architecture: Form Finding and Optimisation

9780295746449

Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects, 2nd Edition
Edited by Jeffrey Karl Ochsner
Paperback edition forthcoming August 2020

“Shaping Seattle Architecture reminds us of the responsibility we bear for future generations. Well illustrated and accessibly written, the book is a fundamental work for anyone seeking to understand Seattle.”―Sally J. Clark, Seattle City Council Member and Chair of the Council’s Housing Affordability, Human Services, and Economic Resiliency Committee

“Shaping Seattle Architecture is the single indispensable guide to understanding the built environment of the Pacific Northwest’s largest city and the men and women who designed it. Based on meticulous research and enlivened by fresh insights and new discoveries, the book is both an essential resource for students of architecture and history and a fascinating guide for anyone who cares about the city we live in now.”―Leonard Garfield, executive director, Museum of History & Industry

9780295746463

The Landscape Architecture of Richard Haag: From Modern Space to Urban Ecological Design
by Thaïsa Way

“Way’s research has prepared her well as an interpreter of Haag’s residential design, public work, and very importantly, post-industrial landscape remediation. She documents the evolution of his design practice and theory, his influences and influence, and very interestingly, the history of the founding department of landscape architecture at the University of Washington.”―Therese O’Malley, associate dean, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art

“Thaisa Way has filled a conspicuous gap in the history of landscape architecture in the United States. Her well-researched combination of insightful biographical narrative and perceptive case studies illuminates the core values informing the brilliant and enduring accomplishments of Richard Haag as designer, educator, and political activist.”―Reuben Rainey, University of Virginia

9780295748078

Building Reuse: Sustainability, Preservation, and the Value of Design
by Kathryn Rogers Merlino
Paperback edition forthcoming August 2020

“Whether you are new to sustainability as a counterpart to historic preservation or a seasoned professional who knows LEED backward and forward, there is much inspiration to be found in Building Reuse.”

–Washington Trust for Historic Preservation

“A welcome addition to the growing dialogue on stewardship of the built environment. The detailed case studies provide meaningful insights to an underappreciated and often overlooked sustainability strategy.”Robert Young, author of Stewardship of the Built Environment: Sustainability, Preservation, and Reuse

9781933245560

Olmsted in Seattle: Creating a Park System for a Modern City
by Jennifer Ott and the staff of HistoryLink

9781933245584

Seattle at 150: Stories of the City through 150 Objects from the Seattle Municipal Archives
by the staff of HistoryLink

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.

Support Indie Bookstores: A Resource Guide

We are grateful to be based in a region that loves literature and supports a thriving literary ecosystem. Local independent bookstores are an integral part of this community. As many have been forced to temporarily close brick and mortar stores and move their operations online, we want to remind you how important it is to shop local right now. Buying a book or gift card during this unprecedented global crisis is a way to contribute to the longevity of our bookstore community.

If you are looking for a new book to read in the coming weeks, we encourage you to check with your favorite local bookstore to see if they are still open for business. If you live in the greater Seattle area, we have compiled the latest information on how to order from many of the local bookstores in our region. The below stores all have online, email, or phone ordering available.

 

Here are a few other ways to connect with and support local independent bookstores:

  • IndieBound: Online platform IndieBound is a longtime supporter of independent bookstores. Users can type in their address or zip code to final local stores in their area.
  • Bookshop: Many of your favorite indie bookstores are working with the new online platform Bookshop, which bills itself as an “online bookstore with a mission to financially support independent bookstores and give back to the book community.” Bookstores that work with Bookshop earn 25% commission on sales and enjoy the accessibility of online bookselling.

Finally, keep in mind that though bookstores cannot currently host guests in-person for book launch events, panels, and readings, many are finding innovative ways to allow these gatherings to continue online. We are partnering with many of the independent bookstores in the greater Seattle area to facilitate these types of gatherings. As logistics are finalized, we will feature the event details and instructions to join on our events calendar. Additionally, we recommend you check the websites of your favorite indie bookstores or subscribe to their e-newsletters, in order to stay informed about upcoming virtual events.

We hope this list will help you remain connected to your local literary community. Happy reading from all of us at University of Washington Press.