Women and the Workplace in Japan, Abe and the Emperor, Japan and Brexit

I feel this story describes more my mother’s generation than my own — then again Japan never fails to shock on the gender front. Guess my own marriage is hardly typical, what with my Japanese husband in charge of the home and both of us happy with no kids https://t.co/NfAg7LKHk1 — Hiroko Tabuchi (@HirokoTabuchi) February 3, 2019 'The problem is with those who didn't give … Continue reading Women and the Workplace in Japan, Abe and the Emperor, Japan and Brexit

Memory and Reproduction: A Study of 1980s Chinese Ethnic Korean Revolutionary Narratives—Yun Il-san’s The Roaring Mudan River

The Sungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies recently published a new and very exciting paper by two Chinese scholars focusing on an area of great interest to me, and hopefully to readers of this blog: namely, the Chinese Korean region of Yanbian. (Fortunately there is no paywall, nor is any login or registration needed; the full pdf is here). This paper presents a valuable window into a … Continue reading Memory and Reproduction: A Study of 1980s Chinese Ethnic Korean Revolutionary Narratives—Yun Il-san’s The Roaring Mudan River

Robert Jay Lifton, Revolutionary Immortality, and the Chinese Cultural Revolution

In his seminal 1961 study of survivors of detention and interrogation in the new People’s Republic of China, Robert Jay Lifton explains why this topic gripped him so thoroughly:  …I arrived in Hong Kong in late January, 1954. Just a few months before, I had taken part in the psychiatric evaluation of repatriated American prisoners of war during the exchange operations in Korea known as Big Switch … Continue reading Robert Jay Lifton, Revolutionary Immortality, and the Chinese Cultural Revolution

Mistranslating Mao in Chengdu, 1958

If you’re thinking much these days about Mao Zedong’s role in triggering massive famine in China during the Great Leap Forward (1958-61), you aren’t alone. In recent years, big histories in English have been published of the Great Leap by the historian Frank Dikotter and journalist Yang Jisheng, respectively, new sources compiled and translated by Zhou Xun, and excellent comparative monographs and edited volumes produced … Continue reading Mistranslating Mao in Chengdu, 1958

New Fragments from Mao in the Cultural Revolution

In December 2013, scholars of the history of the PRC were given a shot in the arm via the publication of Mao Zedong Nianpu, 1949-1976, consisting of six volumes of previously obscure materials from the central party archives press (党文献出版社) in Beijing with respect to Mao Zedong. Links to some of my previous translation efforts in this text, mostly focusing on the early 1950s, are included at … Continue reading New Fragments from Mao in the Cultural Revolution

Cruel Resurrection: Chinese Comics and the Korean War

I wrote this article in the early 2000s under the direction of the ageless Chinese art historian Shen Kuiyi, with whom I did a “cognate field” during my doctoral studies at Ohio University, and with inspiration and advice from Temple University’s John Lent, a pioneer in  global comic book scholarship whose research on cartoonists (漫画家) and cartooning in the early PRC has been foundational to … Continue reading Cruel Resurrection: Chinese Comics and the Korean War

Weaponizing the Past, or, How to Get a Book Contract in Trump’s America

It seems a bit too easy these days to begin any essay with a nod to how disturbed one is by the latest muddy geyser of Presidential discourse. As most sentient beings on the planet today could tell you, the president himself is a kind of endless mine of shocking (and therefore clickable) material when it comes to race in America, immigration, conceptions of borders … Continue reading Weaponizing the Past, or, How to Get a Book Contract in Trump’s America

Napalm and Invasion: North Korean War Memory and British Sources

In a recent post on his black-and-white personal blog, the North Korea scholar B.R. Myers criticizes a recent ream of journalistic think pieces about the function of Korean War memory in the DPRK. The essays, Myers writes, uncritically accept the argument that North Korean memories of US bombing from 1950-53 are a foremost justification today for the pursuit of a nuclear deterrent. To put it another way, Myers … Continue reading Napalm and Invasion: North Korean War Memory and British Sources

Wartime History and Beijing’s Response to the New Defence Minister in Tokyo

In the wake of the Upper House elections in Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has completed a reshuffling of his cabinet. As described by Japan hand Michael Cucek, it was not a particularly inspiring set of choices made by the newly-consolidated Prime Minister: Taro Aso (the right-wing former PM perhaps best recalled for his off-the-cuff endorsement of Hitler’s constitutional revision style) remains at the helm … Continue reading Wartime History and Beijing’s Response to the New Defence Minister in Tokyo

Grain Politics and Sichuan in the 1950s

There are few lines of historical investigation more fraught in China than those concerned with food, security, and famine in Sichuan province in the 1950s. But where to start the investigation? Which reference points obtain? For Frank Dikotter, the reference point is Mao, and the beginning point seems to be 1953. In his book Mao’s Great Famine, the historian locates the origins of the famine … Continue reading Grain Politics and Sichuan in the 1950s