New Koguryo Research in Pyongyang, or, How to Revive a Historical Dispute on China’s National Day

It doesn’t take much skill at reading tea-leaves in Chinese or English to recognize that Kim Jong-un’s letter of congratulations to Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, and Zhang Dejiang on the PRC’s National Day fell far short of what, from a Chinese perspective, it should have been. Kim’s three brief sentences were newsworthy because he was ostensibly bed-ridden, but also because they indicated a lack of … Continue reading New Koguryo Research in Pyongyang, or, How to Revive a Historical Dispute on China’s National Day

On the Inoki Visit to North Korea

Given the amount of public interest in the just-concluded visit of Japanese and American wrestlers to Pyongyang, led by lawmaker (and former wrestling star) Kanji Inoki, I thought I might share a few comments I prepared just as the visit was getting underway. JAPAN-DPRK I think this particular trip is much more about Japan-DPRK relations than some sop to warmer relations with the United States … Continue reading On the Inoki Visit to North Korea

Inter-Korean Sports Diplomacy: Comment in the Washington Post

Adam Taylor runs a key foreign affairs blog for the Washington Post. Today he was kind enough to ask for my views on this story of his about North Korea offering to send cheerleaders to Incheon for the Asian Games. Here is the full text of my response: I do think that [the offer to send a cheerleading squad to the South]  is important and … Continue reading Inter-Korean Sports Diplomacy: Comment in the Washington Post

Hatoyama in Nanking

Hatoyama Yukio [ 鳩山由紀夫]  is the former Prime Minister of Japan (2009-2010) and the grandson of Hatoyama Ichiro [鳩山 一郎]. Today, he continues on a somewhat quixotic but surely very necessary quest to calm Sino-Japanese relations. And I’m reading student essays about the Nanking Massacre (Dec. 1937- Feb. 1938). Further images of his visit by clicking the image above.   Continue reading Hatoyama in Nanking

Algorithms of Revolution and Control in Pyongyang and Guangzhou

An American entrepreneur arrives at the doorstep of a system that clearly sees digitization as a tool of social control.  North Korea is, as one wise man howled from the back of a long socialist queue, “hell bent on controlling the market and its digital trappings.” So what is Eric Schmidt doing in the Democratic People’s Republic of Firewall? And is it really obligatory for us to cheer … Continue reading Algorithms of Revolution and Control in Pyongyang and Guangzhou

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”