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.  Continue reading “Orchestrating Changes on the Multi-Front Electronic Struggle”

Solo

Virtually nothing was posted in January because I was parted from my main axe in Seattle; she needed work, and I needed time to teach and lecture and write, here and in London.  Now the sphere turns and all things return into my waiting hands: the cello, the bow, the black keyboard.  And a microphone awaits as well.  And thus this Bach, raw, an initial … Continue reading Solo

Shanghai Impressions, or, What Cellistic Ennui Tells Us about Cultural Dynamics in the Sino-North Korean Relationship

A few days in Shanghai rarely fails to reorient one immediately from wherever illusory place one has been prior.  In Shanghai, China’s upward thrust is paired with its revolutionary guts, its past foreign dominance juxtaposed at every turn with the new impositions of 1949.  Art of various kinds slides past taxi windows, and the low and sulfurous scent of commerce being transacted hand over fist … Continue reading Shanghai Impressions, or, What Cellistic Ennui Tells Us about Cultural Dynamics in the Sino-North Korean Relationship

Commemorating 9/11 in Berlin

I spent last weekend in Berlin, the main purpose being to perform at the 9/11 Commemoration Service at the American Church in Berlin organized by the U.S. Embassy there. Along with Andreas Boelcke (who is head of the Piano Academy Berlin and is my partner in the Amitayus Duo), in the middle of the service I played “Prayer” by the Jewish composer Ernest Bloch. The … Continue reading Commemorating 9/11 in Berlin

“US-China Musical Diplomacy” at the US Consulate in Chengdu

  25 July 2011 Dr. Adam Cathcart Sino-U.S Relations Lecture at the Chengdu U.S Consulate [Transcription by Mycal Ford, Pacific Lutheran University] Part I: Conflict and Culture: It is often thought that the answer to conflict is culture (wenming). The notion that we should focus on culture to become calm and ease tensions is especially true in China, with its emphasis on “harmony” (hexie), but maybe … Continue reading “US-China Musical Diplomacy” at the US Consulate in Chengdu

A Little Musical Diplomacy

China is presently thundering its way into some heavily-historically-documented commemorations of the 60th anniversary of the PLA’s arrival in Tibet, while at the same time bringing the rhetorical hammer down in a headline Huanqiu op-ed unsubtly entitled “The West, Sympathizers to ‘Xinjiang Independence’ Terrorism.”  As assertive nationalism and an emphasis on “social stability” (and the threats that forces external to China pose to the country’s … Continue reading A Little Musical Diplomacy