Orchestrating Changes on the Multi-Front Electronic Struggle

Decamping from Chengdu, late summer 2012

Recapitulation |  After a solid run of 32 months, the academic weblog Sinologistical Violoncellist has reached its logical conclusion. Since beginning in April 2009, this sole-authored website has been cited in some excellent venues for East Asia news and analysis, including the (web) pages of The Atlantic, Harper’s and The Economist, and Danwei.org.  

I’ve been fortunate to have been quoted in newspapers like the Portland Oregonian and journals like Foreign Policy, and to have had interviews with reporters for newspapers like the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal, for whom my work on Sinologistical Violoncellist was a point of entry into my areas of expertise.

As Paul Olivier of Melville House wrote on the publisher’s literary blog, “[Cathcart’s] blog is more of a single scholar’s East Asian Journal (capital “J”) than it is a weblog.”

Sure, that.

With a parachutist’s approach to East Asia, the blog dealt with all manner of issues as they arose or came to mind: the Chinese youth movement of the 1980s as depicted in East German archives, the social calendar of CCP princelings in Paris, Chinese interpretations of World War II, or environmental movements in China.

Based on my travels, readers could get a gauge on what was going on in Tibet, Chengdu, Beijing, and China’s border with North Korea. Doing fieldwork and archive-dives as a historian can have its benefits.

New Start-Ups |  In December 2011, I made an important break from the present blog and started SinoNK.com, a site focusing on China’s evolving relationship with North Korea.  I’m the Editor-in-Chief of the site and am managing the output of the SinoNK.com Staff (which includes 20 exellent writers and analysts from around the world).

I remain engaged on a larger project on musical diplomacy generally, extending on my academic work on the role of classical music in the Nixon visit to China in 1972 and the visit of the New York Philharmonic to Pyongyang and Beijing in 2008.  A portion of this was just published at Yonsei University, and I will be lecturing on the topic at Stanford University on November 2, 2012. Also relative to this project is its “applied” element, which in my case has included a number of cello performances and recordings in both Europe and China, which can be learned more about on the Amitayus Duo website.

I’m also making a move this fall to the United Kingdom, specifically, to Queen’s University, Belfast, where I will be teaching two courses (World War II in East Asia, and the Cold War in Asia, in the fall and spring, respectively) and supervising a handful of theses and dissertations.

Let me get to the point:

The site is now SinoMondiale.

There will likely be ongoing redesigns and tweaks, but we’re here for the long run.

Expect a healthy mixture of commentary on contemporary history in China, cultural diplomacy, and — a big goal for the fall — China’s experience with Japan in World War II.

Among the questions I hope to answer is: Who is General Takahashi Gaku[高桥坦], and how did he end up surrendering to the Chinese Nationalists in October 1945 in Beijing and dying in a Nanking military prison the following year?

General Chiang Kai-shek’s adjutant awaits the arrival of Japanese Imperial Army General Takahashi on the dais in the Forbidden City, Beijing, October 10, 1945. Image via Huanqiu Shibao

The answers tendered to this and other questions should be suitably eclectic, and, I hope, give readers a reason to keep coming back. 

Acknowledgements |  While we still need to characterize the East Asia blogosphere as a terrain that should be entered into with ample grains of salt,  I have been unfailingly impressed with the abundance and the quality of the ideas among the people I’ve come into contact with through the site, people like JustRecently (the spectacularly consistent and well-documented writer in Germany who chronicles Chinese media, Chinese Communist Party policy, questions of cultural power and economic leverage in China’s relationship with the world) and Jeffrey Wasserstrom (the editor of Journal of Asian Studies, originator of The China Beat, and the head of history at University of California-Irvine, he being the ultimate East Asianist digital-public intellectual who manages to bridge every possible divide).  There are lots of others who have been mentioned elsewhere (D.W. Feldman and E. Gurarie come to mind), and I remain appreciative of the interaction, interest, and support.


  1. Congratulations Adam. Tremendous move. Starting to read this entry, I thought…. Relief. You are still in business, albeit with a far more concentrated focus. Especially appreciated are the bibliographies of academic articles, a rarity in the blog world. Enjoy your series of lectures at Queen’s College.

    And while I’m at it, it’s great to see Justrecently being duly recognized on a number of fronts for his regular-as-clockwork translations and commentary.

    Pride of place in my blogroll and the very best to both of you.

    1. Thanks, KT! Your blog looks really good as well; enjoyed your recent “Sunday Reads.” Appreciate the feedback as always, lets keep truckin’, as they say in the American midwest…

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